Collaborative digital transformation of Standard Bank’s trade finance platform

BBD formed part of a team of several vendors responsible for driving digital transformation for Standard Bank's trade finance platform, offering seamless customer experiences and ease of finance for trade across Africa


  • Form part of a larger team of trusted vendors delivering digital transformation for the bank and its customers
  • Provide the technical expertise needed to reimagine the customer experience of applying for trade finance, taking it from a manual to a digitally empowered process
  • Promote good corporate investment across Africa, offering bespoke solutions for each market that adhere to the domestic regulatory requirements per country, ranging from payment processing and data sovereignty to localisation
  • Create and enable an efficient platform hosted in a modern AWS cloud environment that simplifies trade finance, making it as easy as online shopping, whereby customers can seamlessly capture trade finance transactions


  • The solution has enabled a simplified experience for customers by digitising the often arduous and paper-based trade finance process
  • As the platform is run in the AWS cloud, this enables it to be both resilient and offer 24/7 availability, and is in line with the bank’s overarching cloud transformation strategy
  • Leveraging BBD’s Managed Platform Services (MPS) team also ensures that the platform is consistently maintained, ensuring it runs sustainably and delivers peak performance

Overview of the solution

While Standard Bank was already on a journey to digitally transform their trade finance capabilities, BBD was brought on to supplement the necessary technical expertise needed to fully actualise the bank’s vision for a simplified and seamless trade finance platform.

Notoriously complex for clients to interact with, trade finance products, which includes letters of credit, guarantees, and other documentation required for import and export purposes, are vital for promoting good corporate investment across the continent, and helping businesses negotiate the complexities of global trade while reducing the associated risks for counterparties. Moreover, the degree of complexity in transforming technology is compounded by the sheer scale of Standard Bank’s operations across 19 different markets. This also meant the solution needed to take into account the local regulations for each of the markets it would be deployed into – including parameters relating to data storage, and how payments are made and processed, among other requirements.

Historically, customers were stuck with a manual and labour-intensive trade finance process which required the back and forth of large amounts of paperwork, which is why Standard Bank opted to digitally transform the customers’ experience of this process, explains BBD CEO, Kevin Staples. The bank’s requirements were that the solution needed to offer a seamless and simplified experience for customers akin to online shopping. For this, BBD formed part of a multi-vendor team that was tasked with building a platform that allows customers to easily capture trade finance transactions.

The BBD team were the primary partner responsible for not only building and setting up the platform using cloud technology in line with the bank’s ambition to have all critical business operations running in the cloud by 2025, but were also key to developing and integrating the application, as well as leveraging managed platform services to ensure the platform is continuously maintained and operational.


One of the key factors contributing to the success of BBD’s programme was the application of cloud platform engineering practices. As an AWS Advanced Tier Partner, BBD designed and built a modern cloud platform on AWS that incorporated all the best practices of DevSecOps. This allowed BBD’s development teams to deliver business value rapidly while adhering to the platform’s cross-cutting concerns and standards, including Monitoring and Advanced Observability, Quality, Security and Engineering Practices.

BBD manages the modern cloud platform using the SRE (Site Reliability Engineering) approach, which maximises delivery efficiency while ensuring quality of service to customers. The combination of the cloud platform and SRE practices has enabled Standard Bank to achieve a new level of efficiency, resilience and quality of service to customers. As a result, BBD is now exploring opportunities to extend the value of these practices and AWS capabilities to other signature programs within the bank.

Impact of BBD’s partnership

When it comes to BBD’s relationship with Standard Bank, it’s been a journey empowering the bank with engineering improvements. The relationship between BBD and Standard Bank has shifted through the years, but it remains very much a partnership bolstered by a proven track record of success, in which BBD acts as a key partner enabling digital innovation for the bank and its customers.

“Based on our longstanding and ongoing relationship with the client, BBD has a firm understanding of their people, processes and technology, which enabled us to make a difference from the inside-out” explains Executive Director, Matthew Barnard; “As with any complex transformation programme, these things tend to start off slower than expected, but the bank’s customers are now able to quickly access the transformed products via a resilient and future-proof platform. We were even told about some recent customer feedback where the client said that using the platform was so quick and easy, it was like doing online shopping. Given the complexity of the trade finance products, you know what a big deal that comparison is”.

Importantly, leveraging this long-standing partnership, coupled with a deep expertise and an understanding of the financial services landscape, in tandem with the various leading vendors on this project, has gone a long way in positioning Standard Bank as a key facilitator of trade in Africa.

Speaking to the solution, Bessie Mahopo, CIO – Transactional at Standard Bank adds: “BBD, alongside other vendors, has been a vital partner in supplying modern solutions that are easily scalable and provide high resilience for Standard Bank”.

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