40Seas’ Eyal Moldovan: Pioneering Ai Integration in Commerce

40Seas’ Eyal Moldovan: Pioneering Ai Integration in Commerce

What is the relationship between AI and commerce?

Can trade be (completely) automated?

How can automated financing be incorporated into the trade process?

Many have tried to answer these questions and more without much success. 

However, the rise of new AI-driven solutions has changed the trade and commerce landscape and created a new paradigm that will ensure seamless transactions. 

We reached out to Eyal Moldovan, CEO & Co-Founder of 40Seas, a boutique AI-driven commerce and trade-focused FinTech firm for his insights. 

Here’s what he had to say. 

Eyal Moldovan, CEO & Co-Founder of 40Seas

Happy Future AI:

Thanks for joining us today! Let’s start with the 40Seas backstory, what inspired you to launch the company?

“Thanks for having me! I’ve been building and managing fintech and eCommerce products for more than fifteen years. As Co-Founder and CEO of 40Seas – a fintech platform that simplifies cross-border trade financing for SMEs around the globe – myself and my team have reengineered the BNPL concept to deliver a new paradigm for digitized, B2B cross-border trade-finance.

As a child, I spent many summers working in my father’s retail store – which sold goods imported from China and India. Here I received a very personal introduction into the routine difficulties importers encounter when trying to finance new purchase orders via Letters of Credit. Fast forward to present day, 40Seas enables importers to secure flexible payment terms from global suppliers while ensuring exporters get paid immediately upon shipment – spearheading a new ‘Order Now, Pay Later’ model.”

Happy Future AI:

How was 2023 for 40Seas?

“Throughout 2023, our platform experienced spectacular growth, marked by several significant milestones on our roadmap. Following an extensive phase of development, we kicked off the year emerging from stealth mode with a $111 million funding raise – including a $100m credit facility with global shipping giant ZIM. 

Then, less than six months after our initial seed round, our existing investors Team8 and ZIM doubled down on their financial backing of 40Seas. We secured an additional $6 million in seed funding, extending our initial $11 million seed round announced in January 2023 to $17 million. New investors Eminence Ventures and QED Investors participated in the extended round – which also included participation from existing investors Team8 and ZIM.

This achievement was made at a pronounced increase in valuation, representing a huge sign of confidence in our unique value proposition. The involvement of QED and Eminence Ventures has helped tremendously with our US and Asian expansion. We finished 2023 achieving our goal of doubling in size each quarter, and show no signs of slowing down in 2024!”

Happy Future AI:

Tell us about your partnership with ZIM.

“Since day one, ZIM has been one of our key design partners, investors and lenders, providing a major stamp of approval for the 40Seas solution from a dynamic, multi-billion dollar market leader. ZIM’s extensive cross-border trade expertise, dominant market position and close ties with ecosystem players have given us a massive edge in the market.

As part of our cooperation with ZIM, we launched the ‘Ship Now, Pay Later’ initiative, providing ZIM’s global customer base with a fully-integrated and flexible digital financing solution. 40Seas is also live on Ship4wd, ZIM’s award-winning digital freight forwarding subsidiary. Following a phased rollout across the US, Canada, and the UK, ZIM announced plans to offer the 40Seas solution to its customers in France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Australia.”

Happy Future AI:

Is 40Seas working with any other major industry players?

“We’ve been extremely busy working with industry partners on innovative deployments of our technology. Beyond our collaboration with ZIM, we’ve also developed strong partnerships with industry leaders such as Allianz Trade, the global leader in trade credit insurance, Stripe, a global leader in financial services, and Wise, a leading global fintech.

We have thousands of customers on the platform, from B2B marketplaces like Jingsourcing and Bizbee to brands and importers across North America, UK, Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand.”

Happy Future AI:

How are SMEs at a disadvantage in the global trade arena?

“When it comes to facilitating cross-border transactions for SMEs, traditional banking institutions can’t quite cut it. They simply don’t have the bandwidth to analyze companies at that level of granularity, leaving SMEs at a significant disadvantage.

Sure, it’s easy for banks to assess risk when it’s one large transaction within a single jurisdiction, but it’s considerably more difficult when lots of smaller amounts of credit need to be processed across borders – as is typically the case with SMEs operating in today’s global economy.” 

Happy Future AI:

How can AI be leveraged to help SMEs?

“At 40Seas, we’re harnessing AI to offer flexible payment options that effectively increase the availability of working capital for SME importers, exporters, freight forwarders, and sourcing agencies. In 2024, we will continue to champion the use of AI in the trade financing arena to help address many challenges that have hindered capital accessibility for SMEs, who are 7 times more likely to be denied trade financing than multinationals, according to the WTO.

We’ve found that by rapidly analyzing vast volumes of financial data, AI can be put to work to scalably verify creditworthiness, assess risk and process financing much more efficiently than traditional trade finance institutions and banks. As I’ve discussed earlier, when it comes to facilitating cross-border transactions for SMEs, traditional trade finance institutions and banks don’t have the bandwidth to analyze companies at a granular level.

On the other hand, by quickly analyzing troves of data such as financial statements and transaction history, AI can verify the creditworthiness of SMEs, while Machine Learning algorithms can analyze historical demand patterns and market trends to forecast future demand for products. Overall, this can help deliver much-needed clarity for SMEs operating in today’s highly unpredictable supply chain landscape.”

Happy Future AI:

Have any recent trends caught your attention in the global trade arena?

“Reviewing the past year of activity across the global trade landscape, a significant trend emerged – the transition to a buyer-centric market. Unlike the pre-Covid era, where suppliers held all the cards so to speak, buyers are now increasingly dictating terms of engagement, particularly when it comes to flexible payment terms.”

Happy Future AI:

What role can AI play in the cross-border payment space?

“Against a backdrop of significant geopolitical and macroeconomic upheaval, the global trade ecosystem will benefit greatly from more sophisticated and robust cross-border payment tools in 2024. From a security perspective, AI can be put to work to detect fraudulent transactions more effectively. For instance, AI-driven algorithms can analyze vast datasets in real-time, identifying unusual patterns and anomalies, thus preventing fraudulent activities and enhancing the overall security of international financial transactions.”

Happy Future AI:

What plans are in store for 40Seas in 2024?

“Since going live, 40Seas has financed millions of dollars in transactions and onboarded hundreds of customers in dozens of countries throughout the EU, APAC and the Americas. In short order, we’ve established a global footprint with offices in Tel Aviv, New York City, Toronto, and Shenzhen, and we’re excited to carry over the amazing momentum from 2023 into 2024.

The next 12 months are shaping up to be a banner year in the 40Seas journey, as we continue to expand internationally and explore collaboration synergies with industry leaders – extending the reach of our ‘Order Now, Pay Later’ solution far and wide.”

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