As one of the first ECAs worldwide, EKN has introduced a completely digital application process for the Buyer Credit Guarantee (BCG), previously named Export Credit Guarantee in Favour of Lender.
“We hope that the online application tool will help create smoother work processes and information flows between the bank and EKN,” says Senior Underwriter Katarina Hirsch.
The new tool is very user-friendly and intuitive to use.
Credit Suisse was among the first banks to make use of the new online tool when financing a major transaction for one of Europe’s largest logistics companies. Arnaud Cachard, Head of International Business, Export Finance, says using the tool proved to be a very positive experience. “The new tool is very user-friendly and intuitive to use, guiding the applicant step-by-step to complete the necessary information. The various steps until final approval are transparent and well-structured.”
His colleague, Alex Reffay at Credit Suisse Export Finance, believes the online application process added value to the deal in several ways: “As the Global Coordinator responsible to raise financing of one of Europe’s largest logistics companies, we had a large amount of European suppliers and thus multiple applications to submit to all involved ECAs. The digital procedure has helped us expedite the application process and facilitated the administrative work, also in view of our role as the leader of a banking consortium comprising six reputable banks.”
Hirsch says the new tool provides a good overview of which terms apply to the particular transaction. “The information entered during the online application process ultimately goes straight into the final guarantee agreement, which makes it easier to track changes and handle revised information.”
Reffay testifies to this: “After signing the transaction, the insured party has certain obligations to report or notify certain events to EKN, this step can easily be made in the tool where they are subsequently well documented.”
Away from paper-based forms
As Credit Suisse structured the transaction and applied for EKN support during the Covid pandemic, with restricted access to the office, the transition away from the former paper-based forms substantially facilitated the application process. “The tool allows other team members to also work on the application and it is possible to save a draft, which can be worked on at a later point in time or even shared with the underwriting team,” notes Arnaud and adds: “This interactive feature is extremely useful before an application is formally submitted, especially in the context of large buyer credits involving multiple parties, where it is quite common that some adjustments are required before the loan agreement is finally signed.”
Finally, the tool keeps track of all information that has been shared by the applicant, creating a clear history of the information that has been provided.
To conclude, digitalisation doesn’t reduce the value of human interaction and relationship building, argues Hirsch: “Just because we favour digitalisation to become more efficient, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to talk to our clients. Human connections are essential in building trust and forging strong relationships.”