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Commerzbank Unveils Plan to Automate Parts of its Trade Financing Processes by 2020

Commerzbank plans to automate around 80% of the selected compliance relevant checks of the bank’s trade finance processes by 2020. In October 2018, Commerzbank has started a pilot phase to automate the anti-money laundering processes which are an essential part of any trade finance transaction review. After an evaluation of the pilot phase, it is planned to roll out a further stage of the sanctions checks in trade finance during 2019.

Commerzbank, the leading trade finance bank in Germany, has begun a partnership with Conpend, a fintech company focused on solutions for trade finance operations. Conpend uniquely uses optical character recognition (OCR) and progressive machine learning to extract data from physical documents, recognise patterns and flag deviations. The machine learning component means that the software will constantly improve the identification of potentially non-compliant transactions as it is being used. It will use application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect to Commerzbank’s existing trade finance processing infrastructure and create a complete and detailed audit trail for the bank to front-run the increasing expectations of regulators with respect to reporting requirements.

The planned automation of selected and relevant compliance pre-check and sanctions check processes in trade finance refers to business operations only – the so called “first line of defence”. It does not affect any downstream internal oversight, compliance and audit processes of the Bank. The new business processes will improve efficiency and further optimise risk control procedures. Any compliance risks identified will be reported to the Group Compliance unit where they will be monitored and examined according to the established risk management, control and governance processes.

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