HSBC Shuts Down its Trade Platform, Serai
HSBC Holdings plc
HSBC has decided to shut down its Hong Kong-based trade platform, citing the collapse of a commercially viable business. The financial services company launched the platform three years ago.
Serai was founded in 2019 by Vivek Ramachandran, who was the global head of growth and innovation at HSBC at the time and later became the CEO of the wholly-owned subsidiary.
Serai originated as a lending platform for Hong Kong-based SMEs, but the island's political turbulence and COVID-19 prompted a shift in strategy, with Serai becoming a B2B platform for buyers and suppliers to interact.
A further turn saw the company focus on connecting small- and medium-sized garment manufacturers with component suppliers all around the world.
Despite the difficulties, HSBC continued to invest in the project, according to Global Trade Review, injecting about US $70 million into Serai and funding a 100-person workforce.
According to GTR, Ramachandran informed staff in May that the firm was being investigated by HSBC. Shortly after, he left the company, returning to the bank in a senior role.