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HSBC kills off trade platform Serai

HSBC kills off trade platform Serai

HSBC has pulled the plug on Serai, the Hong Kong-based trade platform it launched three years ago, citing a failure to build a commercially viable business.

Serai launched in 2019, the brainchild of Vivek Ramachandran, who was then global head of growth and innovation at HSBC and who became the wholly-owned subsidiary's CEO.

It began life as a lending platform for SMEs based in Hong Kong but the political turmoil on the island and Covid-19 contributed to a change of strategy, which saw Serai become a B2B platform for buyers and suppliers to connect.

A further pivot saw the startup begin focusing on connecting SME apparel makers with component suppliers worldwide.

Despite the struggles, according to Global Trade Review HSBC continued to invest in the project, pumping around US$70 million into Serai, financing a 100-person workforce.

However, in May Ramachandran told employees that the firm was being put under review by HSBC, says GTR. Shortly after, he left the company, returning to the bank in a senior role.

Now, a message on the Serai website says: "We regret to inform you that Serai will be winding down all operations.

"Despite a huge amount of progress made by the team, it has proven difficult to build a commercially viable business. As a result, we’ve made the difficult decision to close our doors."

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