SME-finance platform Marco has joined forces with DP World’s CARGOES Finance to offer supply-chain financing, factoring and various other forms of lending to address what it claims is a gap of $1.7 trillion in available global trade finance.

Marco’s lending platform uses AI to perform several of the steps necessary to provide finance in an effort to speed up the process. Its MarcoScan document recognition and analytics tool, is embedded in the CARGOES Finance platform, said Jacob Shoihet, CEO and co-founder of Marco.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up 50% of global trade, and provide around 60% of employment in advanced economies, versus 80% in developing economies, but long payment cycles of as much as four months – a state of affairs Marco describes as “excruciating” – and an unwillingness among banks to provide financing, following the 2008 financial crisis, massively hinder economic growth, says Marco.

It claims banks reject 50% of SME finance applications, and these are disproportionately those in emerging markets.

Sinan Ozcan, senior executive officer at DP World Financial Services, said: “With a strong presence in the US and Latin America, Marco enhances our coverage to geographies that have a huge, underserved SME base and access to credit has been a key challenge that remains unsolved.”

This move comes after the port and terminal operator’s claim on Tuesday that its new paperless customs service, CARGOES Customs, would make processing freight through the supply chain far more efficient.

The custom-built system effectively connects customs officials with traders on a single platform, said DP World.