DataSkill with IBM Watson helps Standard Charter Bank scale beyond human capabilities to accurately authenticate trade finance documentation

Business Partner: DataSkill
Client: Standard Charter Bank
Products and Services Used:

  • IBM Services
  • IBM Cognitive Watson
  • ECM Datacap software and DataSkill specific assets, annotators, algorithms, and visualization software called ACUMI.

The Success Story

The Problem

Standard Charter Bank (SCB) serves clients across the world through its large, trade finance line of business. Hundreds of SBC analysts process trade documents to manually and electronically analyze critical elements of trade. These include trade documents, government and private regulations, manifests, and any critical documentation required to legally and efficiently manage the trade finance process. These processes are subject to massive amounts of unstructured and structured data, human interpretation and inefficiencies. Failure to accurately comply to all standards can result in large penalties, lost business, and a loss of competitive business.

As SCB’s business grew—including large-scale shipping transactions with sanctioned countries—increased demand was put on knowledge workers to authenticate the massive amount of documentation that came with it. Unfortunately, humans can’t scale like machines. Risk of errors were increased with the pressure on the teams to handle growing volumes in less time. SCB’s trade service counters were at capacity when it came to auditing information-intensive services for inquiries on general trade, export Letter of Credits, trade submission status, outstanding trade bills and paid trade bills. Even one small oversight could result in penalties, fines and catastrophic loss of business.

SCB’s structured and unstructured data was increasing on a global scale, but customer deadlines still had to be met with compliance and precision. Unwilling to compromise on speed, accuracy and operational efficiency, SCB sought a proven, analytics-based solution that could scale beyond human capabilities.

The Win / Solution

After a competitive RFP process and exhaustive visualization testing, SCB selected DataSkill to deploy its cognitive Trade Finance solution. DataSkill then set up a server farm and worked with SCB to customize the solution to meet its unique workflow requirements. In this highly regulatory environment, the software was carefully configured to satisfy bank stakeholders in terms of compliance, auditing and risk management.

Today, the DataSkill team and IBM Watson software enables SCB to automatically extract data from a high volume of complex documents. For example, through an unattended process, the bank can quickly identify specific information crucial for contract negotiations. Watson can also locate specific legal terms within minutes, not hours or days. This is key for finding potential compliance violations and missing elements, such as signatures and calculations.
“The visualization component was critical for SCB, including how users interacted with this sensitive data,” said Brian Swanson, Vice President of Cognitive Services at DataSkill. “By automating the knowledge worker, SCB has gained a cognitive edge over other financial services organizations.” 

Thanks to DataSkill’s intelligent automation process, SCB is now recognizing results that are more accurate, rapid, consistent and repeatable across the organization. 

Benefits To The Client

SBC expects to institutionalize the expertise in their analyst “knowledge workers” and reduce labor, increase transaction processing speed, reduce regulatory risk, and further scale their trade finance business by leading the market with this competitive solution. Implementation benefits will be more clearly realized as the client moves from proof of concept into production.

DataSkill and IBM Watson software benefits for financial services follow:

  • Automates “knowledge worker” intelligence with cognitive models
  • Mitigates costly regulatory fines and penalties
  • Extracts data from high volumes of unknown documents with similar data
  • Collects and analyzes data for the best possible accuracy rate
  • Reduces workload through automatic identification and classification of cases
  • Improves risk models and data quality

DataSkill selected specifically for their deep expertise with Text Analytics (unstructured data), and proven trade finance and financial services expertise and history. Competing directly against a large field of specialized vendors, DataSkill-IBM overcame intense scrutiny with regard to visualization, data ingestion, and the competing vendor experience.

DataSkill-IBM clearly demonstrated their technical expertise and functional agility regarding trade finance to meet very specific and challenging client-specific requirements. DataSkill’s rapid prototyping capabilities differentiated the solution, and the combination of IBM Software and DataSkill’s pre-existing assets allowed the team to meet all requirements quickly and accurately, while also providing the immediate ability to scale the solution to the global SCB line of business.

Additional Deal Details – Why Apex and IBM won the business

The DataSkill pilot and proof of concept phases secured the deal and are complete. The production implementation is ongoing and scheduled between Nov-May of 2017-18.

  • Deal Size: $1.5M
  • Solution Signed On: Q4 2017


This win is evidence that the strength of IBM combined with the depth of focus and agility of an experienced partner is unstoppable! This is how a channel partnership is supposed to work!

– Ed Evans, Chief Operating Officer, DataSkill

The Business Partner

About DataSkill Process Consultants

DataSkill is invested in delivering game-changing solutions on the new wave of cognitive intelligence. Over the last 40 years they’ve learned how to best program computers to do what they want. Today, the equation has flipped. Now, DataSkill is making the computer work hard to learn what they want them to do. There is too much data out there now, and it’s growing at an insatiable rate. The only way to stay ahead is to use the data to train the computers instead of programming. This is the new cognitive computing era.

The Client

About Standard Charter Bank

SCB, part of an international banking group with a 150-year history in the world’s most dynamic markets, serves the individuals and companies driving investment, trade and the creation of wealth across its customer base. The bank’s trade financing division provides options to lower the costs and risks of businesses in domestic or international trade. It serves clients primarily located in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, with operations also existing in Europe and the Americas.

The Winning Team


  • Joshua Hong, Client Engagement Leader Watson, IBM
  • John Tan, Project Manager IBM Software Group
  • Tom Liau, Engagement Manager, IBM Lab Services, IBM Software Group
  • Nigel Hook, CEO DataSkill
  • Ed Evans, COO DataSkill
  • Brian Swanson, VP Cognitive Services DataSkill
  • Ivan Valles, Data Scientist DataSkill