Global supply chains never sleep.
Look at Maksim Zmitrovich. He starts his day at 4.30 am and is soon writing emails to his partners in China and Hong Kong. By 7 am, he’s writing to his Middle Eastern partners. By 9 am, to his UK partners. By midday, China sleeps and the USA wakes up.
His day is barely halfway through.
Maksim is the company director of Latvian-based VE Limited, a company that specialises in the international wholesale trade of electronics. They’ve been on the market for 7 years and trade in 14 countries, boasting an annual turnover of €1 million.
Their supply chain sprawls all over the world. They ship goods from Miami. They have clients in New York, and warehouses in Dubai, Hong Kong, and the Netherlands. Naturally, Maksim flies often — whether to inspect his goods or warehouses or meet his clients.
Such a complex global supply chain has brought him into conflict with traditional banks.
"They don’t understand the complicated structure of our business."
Their activities relate to buying and selling goods in different jurisdictions. They shift huge numbers of goods around the world by land, air and sea — the problem is that traditional banks don’t have the expertise or the resources to understand the nature of their business.
“They can see a movement of money from different countries,” he said. “They just don’t understand what’s behind it.”
Business transactions are often complicated in global exporting. Let’s say you buy a container of printers in Hong Kong. You might exchange it in Dubai for half a container of mobile phones, which you ship to Germany to sell.
Before Silverbird, they banked with Swedbank. One particularly complicated transaction saw the bank overcharging them. They had bought goods in China and shipped them to Hong Kong where more was added to the shipment until it was sent to the final customer in Dubai.
The money came from the customer in Dubai — it had to be exchanged into Hong Kong dollars and finally the Chinese yuan. Though he had explained the complex nature of the transaction “20 times over” to the bank, when the final payment came, the bank overcharged them enormously.
“Most of the profit margin was eaten by the bank charges and conversion rate,” he said. “It was an absolute nightmare. I gained a lot of grey hairs from that particular transaction.”
"The contrast with Silverbird was extraordinary. The advantage of using Silverbird is their multi-currency accounts."
He spoke about a transaction that occurred two weeks ago. A large shipment of goods was coming from the European Union. One part was shipped to the UK. The main bulk went to Australia. “Silverbird handled it absolutely perfectly,” he said.
They received payment in US dollars from the Australian company. Some of the money was exchanged into Euros and paid to European stock. The other part of the payment was converted into British pounds and paid to the UK supplier.
“With Silverbird, we can make payments in Hong Kong in US dollars. We can take payments from our European partners in euros and exchange that money for sterling to be sent to HMRC to pay our taxes in the UK.”
He found the FX charges sensible, the transaction speed fast, and the paperwork they requested and checked explained the whole transaction. Moreover, he added, “The person who supported me truly understood the business and where the money was going — the whole commercial sense of it.”
For Maksim, Silverbird’s customer support makes it stand out from its competitors. They not only advised him on the paperwork he needed to provide, but also explained how they would support him, the fees involved, and the optimal way of making each transaction.
"Traditional banks can service the window cleaner and mechanic. But they can’t understand why two different company names are on the same shipping container."