Eyal Moldovan is Co-Founder and CEO of 40Seas – a fintech platform that simplifies cross-border trade financing for SMEs around the globe. The 40Seas B2B Order Now, Pay Later solution enables exporters to get paid immediately upon shipment, helping them get a head start on their next production cycle, while providing importers with deferred payment options so they can grow their business without tying up available lines of credit.

Hello Eyal! We are happy to offer you an opportunity like an interview to tell a wider audience more about you and your experience. We will not only talk about the business, but also about you. Tell our readers how you got into this field and where you started your career.

How did you realize that finance and banking was what you were drawn to?

“I actually studied Industrial Engineering in University, but I was always energized by the prospect of being an agent of change for SMEs and disrupting the status quo payments landscape. Before launching 40Seas, I was General Manager of Payoneer’s SMB unit, which I helped grow to 300 employees – servicing over 5 million small businesses worldwide, with an annual payment volume of over $25 billion. Prior to Payoneer, I served as Director of Search at Ybrant Digital, where I established the Ybrant Pay-Per-Click product and oversaw its international growth across three continents. In my experience building and managing fintech and eCommerce products for over fifteen years, I’ve had the opportunity to witness incredible technological strides and innovative solutions coming to market. However, I could also see how the trade financing landscape was failing to evolve with the needs of SMEs operating in the modern digital environment. This was hugely motivating for me, particularly as the son of an SME retailer who routinely encountered difficulties in accessing financing. As Co-Founder and CEO of 40Seas, myself and my team are simplifying cross-border trade financing for SMEs around the globe, who now more than ever, need swift access to financing to survive.”

What advice do you have for aspiring professionals in the field?

“I would underline the importance of continuous learning and development. When any of my younger peers ask me for advice, I always encourage them to proactively put themselves in positions where they’re not the smartest person in the room. Absorbing insights and knowledge from more senior colleagues is invaluable. The hindsight that comes from an older colleague’s experience can provide invaluable foresight for younger professionals, particularly in terms of navigating competitive fields and making informed decisions. In this line of work, it’s evolve or die. So it’s also imperative that they remain attuned to industry trends, new technologies and high-potential use cases. Adaptability is an absolute pre-requisite for success and longevity in the fintech space. Operational agility doesn’t just apply to enterprises – it’s something that industry professionals should embrace as a means of maintaining their own competitiveness in the space.”

Can you share a life lesson or situation that taught you something important? 

“As a boy growing up, I worked in my father’s retail store, where I learned all about the importance of a strong work ethic. I also saw first-hand the range of challenges impacting importers, as my father sold goods that he imported from China and India. On a regular basis I would see my father contending with a host of financing and payment issues, particularly when he needed to finance a new purchase order via a Letter of Credit (LC). Fast forward 25 years, I launched 40Seas, enabling importers to secure flexible payment terms from global suppliers while ensuring exporters get paid immediately upon shipment – this is the crux of our ‘Order Now, Pay Later’ model.

Not too long ago, you participated and shared your insights on fintech trends. Is there anything new you would like to add to this topic? How do you see the industry evolving over the next 5 years?

“Over the next five years, I expect to see regulatory compliance rapidly ascend the list of priorities for enterprises in this vertical. It’s not simply about regulatory adherence. Moving forward, the key will be automated compliance and scalability. Fintech platforms that integrate the compliance piece across domains such as product, business, and R&D, will have a distinct edge. Looking ahead, we can also expect to see high-potential use cases in sectors such as lending, international trade, risk management, compliance, Web3, insurance, and capital markets.”

Let’s talk about the use of AI in finance. How is your firm using this technology? Why have you decided to invest your resources in AI?

“To date, the integration of AI across the financial services sector has yielded substantial efficiency gains. As AI investment levels continue to surge, we can expect further innovative deployments of automation as a means of streamlining customer experiences, facilitating rapid data analysis and enhanced decision making. From a security perspective, AI can also help to detect fraudulent transactions and identify unusual patterns more effectively by analyzing large datasets in real-time. For us at 40Seas, we have long recognised the far-reaching potential of AI to address some of the most pronounced pain points confronting SMEs in today’s hyper-competitive environment.” 

Let’s discuss a pressing issue: bridging the credit gap for SMEs, which are 7 times more likely to be denied trade finance than multinationals. How can your company and your solutions help?

“That’s right, SMEs are at a marked disadvantage when it comes to credit accessibility. This imbalance is contributing to a burgeoning trade finance deficit, now at $2.5 trillion – up from $1.7 trillion in 2020. A recent survey by Goldman Sachs illustrated the extent of SMEs’ widespread concern, with over 75% expressing apprehensions about credit accessibility. SMEs by their very nature are deemed to be ‘riskier’ propositions in the eyes of traditional institutions. As a result, extensive paperwork is required from SMEs in their applications, often up to 100 documents for cross-border transactions, along with a robust credit history. However, SMEs, especially those in the early stage of development, lack the requisite track record, undermining their perceived creditworthiness. Delays in application reviews impede sales and revenue, undermining SMEs growth prospects.

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. Through rapid analysis of extensive financial data, AI can be leveraged to efficiently verify SME creditworthiness, assess risk, and process financing much faster than traditional trade finance institutions and banks. One of the major problems is that traditional banks don’t have the bandwidth to assess SMEs at a granular level. Sure, they can easily 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 usually the case with SMEs. At 40Seas, we want to level the playing field for SMEs in this regard.”

 

What do you think is the risk of using AI in lending? What is the probability of making a mistake, and how much will it cost the company?

“Implementing AI in lending has the potential to introduce risks such as algorithmic bias and inaccurate decision-making, which can then lead to financial losses for companies. The probability of error, although minimized through AI’s predictive capabilities, still exists due to data biases and model limitations. Even a small error rate can result in significant financial consequences, such as approving loans to unqualified borrowers or denying creditworthy applicants. Addressing these risks requires ongoing monitoring, transparent algorithms, and robust risk management practices to mitigate potential losses.”

Are there any further steps planned in the development of your solution? Can you tell us about them?

“Absolutely. While we have experienced a very strong arc of growth since going live – financing over $15 million in transactions and onboarded hundreds of customers in dozens of countries – we are just getting started. With offices in Tel Aviv, New York City, Toronto, and Shenzhen, we have an amazing global foundation to build upon, and we look forward to continuing our engagement with industry partners on unique deployments of our technology. We’ve already collaborated extensively with shipping giant ZIM, launching the ‘Ship Now, Pay Later’ initiative, which provides ZIM’s global customer base with a fully-integrated and flexible digital financing solution. 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. Moving forward, we want to expand our network and suite of services in line with evolving market dynamics.”

And let’s add a few questions that will help our readers get to know you from a different side: What 3 books would you recommend everyone to read?

“Economist John Kay has a great book called ‘Obliquity: Why Our Goals are Best Achieved Indirectly’. Eloquently written, the book provides a unique perspective on goal-setting that I think any fintech professional would benefit from reading. I would also recommend ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Ries. This book is essential for anyone in the tech industry. It provides a framework for developing products in an innovative and efficient way, which is crucial for startups and established companies alike. Finally, ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman is a masterpiece that delves into the two systems of thinking we use: the fast, intuitive system and the slow, rational one. It’s a profound exploration of how we make decisions and can be incredibly insightful for business leaders.”

Your favorite quote?

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right” – Henry Ford

What leaders in the tech industry inspire you?

“Several leaders come to mind. Elon Musk for his relentless innovation and vision across multiple industries, from space travel with SpaceX to sustainable energy with Tesla. Satya Nadella of Microsoft has done an incredible job transforming the company’s culture and strategy, focusing on cloud computing and AI. Additionally, Jack Ma’s journey with Alibaba showcases the power of resilience and the importance of thinking big.”

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