Letters of credit (L/Cs) have helped several banks win awards in The Banker transaction banking awards 2021.

A notable feature in this year's awards is that the use of electronic documentation such as e-L/Cs and e-guarantees have soared, with many banks reporting a double-digit increase in the percentage of digital documents being issued.

Global award

Citi has retained its position as the global winner of the awards, according to the judges once again demonstrating the insight it has on the many markets the bank operates in.

The judges also noted that the bank became a founding member of the Trade Information Network, which aims to build a collaborative solution to tackle the trade finance gap and is also a member of Contour, the blockchain-based trade finance platform that is currently focusing on digitising L/Cs.


Société Générale was declared Africa's best transaction bank with the judges praising the bank's expansion of its structured green trade finance initiative across the continent.

Several trade finance instruments fall under the initiative, such as export and import L/Cs, as well as trade and payment guarantees.


One of the reasons HSBC was declared Asia-Pacific's best transaction bank was HSBC Vietnam acting as the green structuring bank for a major installation of solar panels.

The bank provided green L/Cs and green trade loans, helping clients to secure long-term funding and meet their working capital needs.

Trade finance

In winning the trade finance category, Standard Chartered demonstrated how it assessed the issues worst impacting its clients and devised workable solutions.

It identified the documentation process needed for export L/Cs as one that was particularly arduous for clients, and the judges commended the bank's Singapore team work with the technology and SC Ventures teams to develop a structured L/C checklist.

Using machine learning and natural language the bank significantly reduced the amount of time taken to submit compliant documents from 10 days to as little as two days and significantly reducing fees.

This article represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of the ICC or Coastline Solutions.