Trade Finance and Trade-in Banking Explained

April 13th, 2023

With our article, learn what are the instruments used by Trade finance service providers to facilitate international trade and commerce.

Trade finance and trade-in banking are critical components of international trade. They play a crucial role in facilitating cross-border transactions and reducing the risks associated with global commerce.

In an increasingly globalised world, understanding these concepts can be significantly relevant to the success of a growing company. 

In this article, we will explore the key features of these concepts, their importance in global commerce, and what instruments are used in international transactions. 

What is trade finance?

Trade finance refers to the financial products and services that facilitate international trade transactions between importers and exporters. 

The main purpose of trade finance is to reduce the risks and help the parties involved in any type of international transaction. For example, an exporter may require financing to manufacture or purchase goods for export, while an importer may need to secure financing to pay for the goods upon delivery. Trade finance products and services help to bridge this gap by providing the necessary financing and mitigating the risk of non-payment. 

The service is usually provided by banks and financial institutions, but it can also be guided or facilitated by companies with the expertise and resources to manage the complex processes of international trade transactions.

Since trade finance plays such an important role in international transactions, the service has become increasingly necessary among companies growing in a globalised world. 

What is trade-in banking?

Trade finance and trade-in banking are often used interchangeably, as the latter also relates to facilitating international trade transactions. 

However, while trade finance is a broader term to refer to this service, trade-in banking is more specific, being an application in trade finance. 

What are the risks of international transactions?

Since trade finance aims to mitigate the risks of trade transactions, it is important to look at what these risks are to assess then how these products and services can prevent problems. 

Effective risk management strategies are essential for businesses engaged in international trade to minimise their exposure to these risks and ensure successful and profitable trade transactions. 

1. Credit risk

Is the risk that the importer will fail to pay for the goods or services provided by the exporter. 

2. Currency risk

The risk is that changes in exchange rates between the currencies will affect the value of the transaction. 

3. Political risk

Political instability, changes in regulations or government policies, or trade restrictions could affect the ability of the importer or exporter to fulfil their obligations. 

4. Transport risk

Goods being transported might be lost, damaged, or delayed during transit. 

5. Quality risk

The risk is that the goods or services provided by the exporter will not meet the quality standards required by the importer. 

6. Legal risk

Legal risk is the risk that the transaction will be subject to legal disputes or litigation. 

When Is Trade Finance Used?

Trade finance and trade-in banking are used in international trade transactions worldwide. 

Trade finance is widely used in manufacturing, agriculture, and retail industries, where businesses rely on global supply chains to source raw materials, components, and finished products.

Banks and financial institutions use trade-in banking to facilitate international trade transactions between importers and exporters.

What Are the Instruments of Trade Finance?

Various financial instruments are used in trade finance to facilitate international trade transactions. Here are some of the most common ones:

Letters of credit (LC)

A letter of credit is a financial instrument used to guarantee payment between two parties involved in a trade transaction. 

It is issued by a bank, stating that it will pay the exporter a specified amount of money if the terms of the transaction are met. The letter of credit reduces the risk for both parties in the transaction.

Documentary collection

This is a payment method where the exporter sends shipping and title documents to its bank, which forwards them to the importer’s bank. The importer’s bank releases the documents to the importer after payment or acceptance of a draft.


A guarantee is a promise by a bank to pay the exporter if the importer fails to fulfil its obligations. It is often used to guarantee a payment or to ensure the quality of goods.

Trade credit insurance

This is an insurance policy that covers the exporter against the risk of non-payment by the importer. The policy provides coverage for political and commercial risks that may result in non-payment or delayed payment.


Forfaiting involves the sale of trade receivables by the exporter to a forfaiter at a discount. The forfaiter assumes the risk of non-payment and pays the exporter upfront.


Factoring is similar to forfaiting, but it involves the sale of trade receivables by the exporter to a factor. The factor assumes the risk of non-payment and provides working capital to the exporter.

Export credit agency (ECA) financing

ECAs provide financing and guarantees to support exports from their home countries. This is often used to support large-scale infrastructure projects.

Final Thoughts

Trade finance and trade-in banking are essential in today’s globalised world. Companies are increasingly expanding to foreign markets, exposing themselves to risks in international transactions. In this context, trade finance provides a way to mitigate risks and facilitate businesses between companies in different countries.

It is key that companies growing abroad and looking for commercial partners are aware of the risks and the tools they have available to perform smooth transactions. Financial institutions and global expansion experts will be able to guide these businesses through an ever-changing international landscape. 

Gemma Bignell

Gemma joined The Briars Group in 2006 as an Accountant and now is a proud Board member and Chief Financial Officer for our company. Gemma has an extensive knowledge of international operations and is involved in the overall operation of the business providing technical expertise and guidance as one of our key advisors to clients looking to expand into new territories. In her spare time Gemma keeps herself busy with her keen interest in DIY, keeping fit and looking after her pets! Gemma is passionate about her community and has spent time as a Scout Leader which is a testament to her dedication to supporting our young leaders of the future.