Insight & Analysis

Putting new complexion on SME funding

Published: Jan 2024

Tint Financial Services aims to facilitate global trade held back by complexity and lack of access to cross-border trade finance.

Big complicated road system

In the six months since it was founded by former Barclays and Lloyds Finance Director Steve Rose, Tint Financial Services has facilitated US$20m of global trade at a time when banks have (in the words of its CEO) significantly reduced their support with fewer relationship managers.

The company’s platform aims to bring together all the key services required when trading internationally including trade finance, insurance, FX, logistics, compliance and ESG support.

The focus is on short-term finance, explains Rose. “Up to 90 days is the cut off where we can help,” he says. “The typical term we are asked to support is between 45 and 75 days.”

Customer turnover is between US$2m and US$100m, so excludes micro SMEs and cuts out at the level high street banks typically target. “We are not specific in terms of industry, only that the goods we fund must be physical and used by the buyer – in other words, not sold to a trader to resell,” adds Rose.

Tint’s lending is supported by Channel Capital, an alternative investment fund manager specialising in technology-driven trade finance and B2B lending. Channel is the investment arm of Channel Digital Holdings, which has deployed more than US$10bn to businesses since 2014.

One of Tint’s key customers is Jaguar Steel and Coal, a Singapore-based international brokerage/trading house for the metals and steel industry. The company operates at various levels of the supply and value chain from procurement and distribution to currency and risk management and does business in more than 40 countries across Europe, North America, South America, Africa, the Middle East, Australia, the Indian sub-continent and the ASEAN region.

Jaguar counts some of Asia’s biggest steel mills, manufacturers and smelters among its regular customers and is an exclusive agent of some of America’s and Europe’s largest recyclers.

“We trade about US$230m of recyclables per annum, which is about 700,000 metric tons of ferrous scrap per month,” explains Akshay Kharbanda, CEO of Jaguar Steel and Coal.

Prior to working with Tint, the company financed its international trade through a combination of its own equity and funding from its bank in Singapore, UOB Bank.

“We have validated the market gap and the need for the combination of services that will be available through our platform and look forward to helping many more businesses along their scaling journey,” says Rose.

Tint says it supports the move to net zero by understanding the risks to be managed in supplying goods that support carbon reduction, how to measure the achievement of that carbon reduction, and how to repay the investment as the benefits are delivered.

“It is very important for Jaguar to be able to demonstrate sustainability in our supply chain,” says Kharbanda. “We have a strong ESG policy – we are committed to meeting the UN goals under the 2030 target and fulfil ten of the sustainable development goals under the UN Paris Convention for Climate Control. We also deal in commodities that reduce CO2 emissions – every metric ton of ferrous scrap used saves 1.5 metric tons of CO2 emissions.”

“We are helping our clients trade in sustainable goods by matching them with funders who want to support sustainable trading,” adds Rose. “We have our own ESG framework against which we review the goods to be funded and we can also support reporting on environmental impact.”

While the company currently provides wholesale funded lending products to SMEs, it has plans to apply for the regulatory permissions that will enable risk managed trade to be funded through UK deposits as a UK deposit taker.

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