According to industry reports, India’s overall exports reached an all-time high of $669.95 billion in the financial year 2022. India’s services exports reached the targeted $250 billion for the first time, during April-March 2021-22 – a 21.3 percent rise over fiscal 2020-21. In fiscal 2021-22, India’s merchandise shipments too reached an all-time high of $422 billion.
To help India’s export businesses set new milestones, the government of India has taken new steps that includes the six-month extension of the existing foreign trade policy till March 31, 2023. In the inaugural session of the B20 India Inception Meeting organised by industry chamber CII, Union Minister for Commerce & Industry Piyush Goyal said that the country’s services export would cross the $300 billion target with around 20 percent growth in this fiscal year.
Simplifying India’s export business lifecycle
The export business in India currently involves many manual time-intensive procedures which not only affect exporters’ operational efficiency but also delay the entire export lifecycle. With an aim to resolve this problem, reduce turnaround time and take India’s export business to new heights, ICICI Bank has launched a comprehensive set of digital solutions for exporters, a suite of banking and value-added services on a single platform that can ensure seamless export transactions. With digital solutions, ICICI Bank streamlines the time-consuming manual processes used by the export industry in India by digitising the export lifecycle, and increasing the overall operational effectiveness of exporters
In a recent interview with YourStory, Sumit Sanghai, Head – Large Clients Group, ICICI Bank, delved deeper into how digital solutions can improve the overall business lifecycle for exporters. He said, “Our whole effort has been to make the entire journey of an exporter simple and efficient by leveraging technology.” As part of digital solutions, the bank provides exporters with foreign currency accounts, named Exchange Earners’ Foreign Currency Accounts (EEFC). With the help of EEFC, exporters can reduce their foreign exchange transaction costs. EEFC is a current account that lets one hold their foreign currency earnings in the account, without converting them to local currency.
The bank also offers easy-to-access foreign exchange deals for exports. It lets exporters book forex deals over call and online to experience flexibility and transparency in booking rates. It further enables exporters to avail the convenience of Export Packing Credit (EPC) instantly and digitally through Trade Online – ICICI Bank’s flagship digital platform for export-import transactions. Instead of having to wait for a few days, exporters can get access to funds instantaneously and can avail of the bank’s electronic Letter of Credit (e-LC) facility that acts as a digital repository. Additionally, exporters can get access to LC on a real-time basis for verification of trade terms.
This latest set of digital solutions further aim to simplify the journey of exporters by digitising the entire export lifecycle. Everything is taken care of, including the identification of export markets, export financing, foreign currency services, and obtaining export incentives. The bank’s solutions such as e-Softex and e-DOCs, promise to streamline the export process for exporters by offering digital document filing, settlement and invoice reconciliation. This will improve convenience by reducing the turnaround time for these transactions from a few days to almost real-time.
Improving exporters’ productivity
To facilitate the end-to-end digital movement of trade documents across the world, the bank has partnered with leading electronic Bills of Lading (e-BL) service providers. As a result, exporters can experience efficient working capital management, with a reduced turnaround time to a couple of days from the existing practice of 8-10 days.
Sharing his insights, Sanghai said, “With our e-DOCs and trade API systems in place, we can integrate the customer platform, customer ERP and the bank’s system, – making the process fast and seamless. As a result, exporters can easily scale up even if they have a small volume of transactions. They do not need to spend time on reconciliation. Also, this platform provides a very safe and secure medium for integration. The data and document flow between the customer and the bank is end-to-end encrypted. We aim to make this process simple, efficient and fast.”
With ICICI Bank’s trade APIs ranging from Remittances, Letters of Credit and Bank Guarantee, exporters can seamlessly handle export bills. To make it more seamless, the bank offers a Trade API solution that provides exporters with a simplified Do-It-Yourself (DIY) experience anytime, anywhere. Based on this offering, exporters can initiate transactions via their ERPs directly with the bank, thereby enhancing productivity.
Apart from trade accounts, paperless export solutions and instant EPC, ICICI Bank also offers some value-added services through Trade Emerge – a one-stop platform that offers a comprehensive digital suite of various banking and other financial services. The platform also facilitates an end-to-end journey from business incorporation, regulatory guidelines, partner discovery, logistics and cargo tracking among other services. “This is the platform where exporters can get the whole data about rules and regulations around export transactions on this platform. Apart from that, exporters can find new foreign partners across global markets, and choose efficient logistics providers through this platform,” mentioned Sanghai.
Talking about why exporters should use this platform, Sanghai added, “ICICI Bank intends to support the growth of exporters with an all-encompassing suite of digital solutions. The set of solutions enables large, medium and emerging companies to undertake their export transactions online, anywhere and anytime. We believe that this initiative will bring in unmatched efficiency in the entire export lifecycle across industries and act as a catalyst in their business growth.”