vCargo Cloud Pte Ltd: Accelerating Cross-Border Trade by Delivering Innovative Digital Solutions

vCargo Cloud Pte Ltd

vCargo Cloud (VCC) is an Infocomm Technology (ICT) solution and service provider, specialising in simplifying global trade by offering trade-related solutions. Headquartered in Singapore, with offices in Africa, China and Indonesia, VCC has deployed its solutions in 16 countries, including Kenya, Indonesia, Cambodia, Russia, and China.

VCC’s integrated platform, CamelONETM, consists of a suite of interconnected trade-related solutions, opening new opportunities for businesses and countries to grow by creating an ecosystem that connects stakeholders in the trade compliance, cross-border logistics, and trade financing sectors.

VCC’s other key solutions and services include:

  • SeafoodXchange, a B2B e-marketplace, specialising in global seafood trade that allows traders to buy and sell their frozen, fresh and chilled seafood products worldwide
  • Single Window platform which simplifies trade compliance across multi-agencies via one platform
  • World’s first electronic Certificate of Origin solution that uses blockchain
  • Trade Declaration Service which provides permit preparation automation with 24/7 trusted support and 100% accuracy
  • eCargo Marketplace, a one-stop portal that connects service providers in freight, warehousing, 3PL, trucking, insurance and trade finance with the shippers
  • CamelONE Trade Finance, the first unified multi-bank trade finance portal in Singapore.

Strategic Vision Defining Success Roadmap

With a grand vision of changing global trade through digitalisation, VCC developed the CamelONE platform, which serves as the backbone and framework for building an ecosystem of stakeholders in trade, logistics and supply chain. CameIONE simplifies and enables seamless cross-border trade, including trade compliance, cross-border logistics, and trade financing.

VCC started in 2013 and had lean manpower with less than 8 people. The company faced different challenges from funding issues, talent shortage, market competition, changes in the business landscape, etc. However, VCC persevered by wearing multiple hats and being agile, flexible and adaptable so that it is always ready to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. VCC steadily grew and evolved into a well-structured company, albeit still nimble, amassing multiple teams globally, overseeing different regions and products. Its headcount is now close to 200.

Through this journey, VCC stayed intensely focused on enabling and simplifying global trade. Geographically, the company has also strategically selected countries that are mapped along the Belt and Road Initiative countries. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious program adopted by the Chinese Government to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors with the aim of increasing trade and stimulating economic growth. Therefore, VCC believes that there will be many opportunities in these countries in terms of trade digitalisation where its solutions will be able to help simplify cross-border trades and improve lives.

An Industry Veteran

Mr Desmond Tay co-founded vCargo Cloud (VCC) in 2013 and was appointed the CEO.  A visionary technopreneur, he leads VCC to be one of the fastest growing local companies on a global stage, setting VCC’s footprint in South East Asia, China, Central Asia, Russia and Africa.

As an industry veteran, Mr Tay provides leadership and direction in driving the evolution of trade facilitation and cargo community platforms. He also pioneered the implementation of the e-freight@-Singapore solution for Singapore. A pragmatic architect, Mr Tay leads the industry in adopting innovative technologies, including the implementation of the world’s first electronic Certificate of Origin solution using Blockchain.

Simplifying Global Trade Through Integrated Solutions

With the growth in trade volume, it is inevitable that companies are required to perform import and export operations in a variety of legal and regulatory environments around the world. As international trade continues to grow, businesses are facing challenges as trade processes are getting inherently complex and heavily reliant on paper-based processes which can be tedious and laborious.

So, VCC is on a mission to improve lives. It aims to accelerate cross-border trade by bringing together businesses, economies and people living in countries within the BRI, thereby igniting economic growth which translates into better living standards for the people. Today, VCC has and will continue to help digitalise these cross-border trade.

VCC’s integrated platform, CamelONE, has multiple digital solutions for users to select according to their business needs. These solutions bring many benefits, including helping companies to be more efficient and productive through automation of processes which reduces manual intervention, leading to higher accuracy. Through the solutions, users can overcome complex trade processes and trade rules. For example, they can get freight forwarding service by stating their requirements and following a series of simple steps, without needing to understand the entire process. The same goes for other complicated tasks such as permit preparation, submission and clearance, preparation and submission of Certificate of Origin (CO), trade finance applications, and more.

Driving Innovation by Continuous Technological Disruption

Technological disruptions happen continually and extend to existing technologies. For example, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and security are not new technologies per se, but the enhancements in these technologies and the evolving use of them will potentially make them disruptive.

These technologies also have a positive impact on VCC’s solutions and offerings. As a central hub for the trade, data and finance flow for transactions going through different parts of the CamelONE platform, big data analytics enables VCC to compute and generate information for its users, including analytical and predictive insights. The advent of artificial intelligence also allows the company to creatively incorporate them into different parts of its platform, such as the intelligent capturing of transaction details from scanned invoices and converting it to PDF format. Last but not least, there are also components in the CamelONE platform using technologies such as blockchain to provide immutable security to protect the sensitive information that VCC’s platform holds. One such example is the company’s Smart eCO solution, which uses blockchain to secure the digital certificates of origin.

Forging Strategic Partnerships For Diversification

As a growing company, VCC believes in creating partnerships with other government agencies, associations and businesses. This allows VCC to join forces so that it can learn from each other, exchange ideas and diversify its network. This is vital to the health and success of VCC’s business.

Since its inception, VCC has transformed from a mere promising local start-up to a renounced solution provider in its areas of expertise, working strategically with key local government agencies (ESG, IMDA, SCE, Singapore Customs), local and global associations (IATA, SAAA, SICC, SLA, etc) and other international governments and agencies (ADB, CCIB, SCT, UNESCAP, etc) to further expand and deploy its platform to enhance the connectivity and network of stakeholders and service providers. Two excellent examples of how partnerships have helped VCC drive innovation are its SeafoodXchange and CamelONE Trade Finance solutions.

SeafoodXchange is Singapore’s first B2B eMarketplace for seafood traders, to help the seafood industry overcome the barriers to effective digitalisation. With the support of Enterprise Singapore, Punggol Fish Merchants Association, Seafood Industries Association Singapore and Singapore Fish Merchants’ General Association and VCC’s technology, trade expertise and network, this solution was launched successfully.

VCC’s CamelONE Trade Finance solution, a significant initiative for the digital trade finance community, is also another good example of the benefits of strategic partnerships. The company would not have been able to develop this solution without the collaboration and support of nine leading trade finance banks. CamelONE Trade Finance is the first unified multi-bank trade finance portal launched in Singapore and developed by a technology company in Southeast Asia.

Overcoming Challenges 

As a leading technology company that deals with both government and businesses, apart from the usual challenges faced by other tech companies, VCC has to overcome some obstacles that are specific to the nature, scale and extent of its operations.

First, the company has to continuously upload and strengthen its good work and reputation by working with key agencies, organisations and partners, especially in initiatives that are cross-border and government-related. Such initiatives entail having a credible and reliable technology provider that is not only strong in the technical aspects but is also familiar, experienced and confident in handling many high-profile stakeholders who are inevitably involved in such initiatives.

Second, because of the global nature of VCC’s CamelONE platform, with each additional footprint that CamelONE makes, it opens up new opportunities for the company’s users to reach new territories and establish new trade relations. However, the challenge is deriving an efficient, effective and responsive methodology to establish the connectivity of this new landing point to the rest of the existing nodes in the CamelONE network, and this goes beyond technical connectivity. It also involves rapidly linking up the connection between the different stakeholders.

Third, the most vital challenge is finding the right people to fill up the right roles as VCC expands the team. With each additional product, initiative and country that CamelONE lands on, the company needs better and capable people to take on these new responsibilities. As much as it is a technology company that relies on exploiting technologies to gain its competitive advantage, ultimately, it is the people that VCC relies on to fuel its growth.

Changing Dynamics of Future TradeESG

VCC will continue to strive towards its vision of providing a truly easy to use, one-stop platform that all traders and related service providers and stakeholders will come onboard to have a simple and seamless experience as they expand and grow their global trade business. The company will also continue to leverage technologies to deliver more innovative products while at the same time focusing on integrating these new products into the existing platform and network in a seamless manner. It will continue to strengthen the interconnectivity between each product and between locations so that the power of the network effort and the benefits of an integrated ecosystem will be fully manifested.

This will be in sync with how global trade will continue to expand, evolve and be disrupted as new technologies, new players, new dynamics between countries and new modes of trading continue to oblige traders and related stakeholders to continually seek better tools and more efficient channels to conduct their existing trades and explore new trades. “The natural progression and inclination to a common trading platform that will provide the benefits of consolidation and aggregation will continue to draw traders to platforms that can deliver these effectively. CamelONE will continue to evolve and improve to match these requirements to remain the platform of choice,” asserts Desmond.