vCargo Cloud launches platform to digitalise global trade, improve SME access

TRADE and logistics solutions provider vCargo Cloud on Wednesday launched a digital trade platform called GUUD, aimed at improving global trade access and processes for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through digitalisation.

The platform follows the UN/CEFACT Buy-Ship-Pay model to streamline trade processes like compliance, shipping, financing and payments on one integrated platform. By stripping out the middlemen that normally handle these aspects of trade, GUUD hopes to improve access to global markets for SMEs.

It builds on several initiatives that vCargo Cloud set up recently, such as its Clikargo logistics platform in Indonesia, the SeafoodXchange B2B e-marketplace and its CamelONE Trade Finance multi-bank portal to help SMEs connect with various banks on a single platform.

Said Desmond Tay, chief executive of GUUD and vCargo Cloud: "We want to bring (these stakeholders) closer together so that producer/farmers or SMEs - who traditionally do not have access to these markets - using the GUUD ecosystem... have the capability to reach out - not only from a marketplace point of view, but the entire supply chain, which will help them ensure their product meets the local government compliance requirements in terms of logistics, which could be very complex to some of these SMEs, and, eventually, if there is a financial need, to be able to help them finance."

vCargo Cloud has been building the GUUD platform and ecosystem over the last four years. It launched it at this time because the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the challenges faced by SMEs that are not online or digitally ready, said Vesmond Wong, group chief executive of Declout, of which vCargo Cloud is a subsidiary.

He said: "We were actually hoping to have more time to fine-tune the platform and get more partners on board before we launched it. But with this particular situation, we do not know how long this difficult lockdown is going to last. So (the pandemic) pushed us to just move forward and see where it will get us."

Sixteen countries are represented on the platform, including Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Georgia, Mauritius, Kenya and Togo. In Singapore, GUUD is supported by Enterprise Singapore, the Infocomm and Media Development Authority, Singapore Customs and Singapore Cooperation Enterprise.

While the platform is largely industry-agnostic, especially in its "ship" and "pay" pillars, Mr Tay noted that certain industries are now more established under the "buy" pillar. This is because vCargo Cloud has set up dedicated marketplaces or has found strategic partners to build such marketplaces. These areas include food products like seafood and beef, electronics and contract manufacturing.

He said South-east Asia will continue to be a key focus for GUUD as it seeks to broaden the platform's reach. Its next targets in the region include Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand. It also sees potential in the western countries of Africa, and plans to invest more in that part of the continent over the next couple of years.