ETC Featured in Retail Merchandiser

Sadie Keljikian, Express Trade Capital

Express Trade Capital is proudly featured in the current issue of Retail Merchandiser!

Managing Director Mark Bienstock, Director of Opportunity Drew Cohen and Senior Vice President David Estrakh spoke with Retail Merchandiser’s Bianca Herron about what makes ETC’s approach unique, how we’ve grown into the institution we are today, and our latest projects, most notably Stern Corporate Services Group.

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Corporate Giving Guide: Part 2

Sadie Keljikian and Sara Sobolev, Express Trade Capital

Last year, we released an article about the ins and outs of corporate donations. Here’s a summary of the fundamental points we covered:

  1. Research thoroughly to find responsible, reliable charity organizations.
  2. Find a cause that relates to your industry.
  3. Find a local organization whenever possible.
  4. Give what you can and don’t worry that it isn’t enough.

This year, we’d like to talk a little further about how to choose the right charities based not only on your industry, but on your personal values and where there is most need.

Evaluate Your Priorities

First things first, you need to decide what issues or causes speak most directly to you and your business. If your business has any particular philanthropic drive already, it is obviously wise to stick to that (i.e. if you run an eco-friendly business, it makes sense to donate to environmental advocates). If, however, your business doesn’t have any particular attachment to specific causes or issues, you might want to research charitable activity among your customers and throughout your industry to see where other companies like yours direct their donations.

Consider International Donations

Local charities are always worth investigating, but be aware that your donation may go a lot further is less developed countries. In areas where clean drinking water, food, or clothing is in short supply, small donations of around $20 can feed several families or clothe a dozen children. Again, donating to non-US causes isn’t necessarily better, it will simply go further in many cases.

Check the News

Obviously, the rule that one should donate to charities relevant to their industry still applies, but if there is immense need in a particular geographical location or among a specific group, it is usually a good idea to devote at least some portion of your donation budget to that cause. An excellent example at the moment is hurricane relief in Texas and Puerto Rico. Numerous people are still without homes and institutions are still without power. Fortunately, there are dozens of charitable organizations funneling resources to hurricane relief and directing them where need is greatest. Recent natural disasters are easy choices if you’re looking to spread your donations across a few different charities and aren’t sure where to delegate funds.

Make Your Donation Directly Whenever Possible

Third-party fundraisers can be extremely helpful to charitable causes. Particularly in the age of the internet and smart phones, fundraisers often use celebrities and creative projects (songs, live performances, art installations, etc.) to create a cultural phenomenon around the charity they support. Unfortunately, these third parties sometimes don’t clearly articulate how much of the money they raise actually goes to the charity. With all this in mind, it is definitely wise to donate directly to the charitable cause of your choice

Again, do your research!

One important fact to consider is that bigger or smaller isn’t necessarily better in terms of charity organizations. Larger organizations often have an extensive reach, but may have to use a lot of their donated funds to pay for day-to-day operations. Smaller organizations, on the other hand, usually distribute the vast majority of their donated funds to their cause, but sometimes don’t operate exactly as they say, since it’s easier to get away with fudging some facts when the organization isn’t bringing in significant funds. To reiterate: always research thoroughly when you’re determining a charity or charities to support. Although smaller organizations can sometimes get away with fraudulent funding attribution, checking two or more sites that evaluate charities like the IRS Exempt Organizations Select Check and more (listed in last year’s article) should enable to you seek out the right cause.

A few suggestions…

In addition to the charities we supported last year, we at Express Trade have included a few more in our annual giving this year:

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center – A world leader in cancer research and patient care since 1884.

Delivering Good – A nonprofit that collects product donations from the apparel, kids/baby, and home goods industries and gives them to children, adults and families struggling with poverty and/or disaster.

CFA’s Educational Foundation – The Commercial Finance Association’s foundation devoted to educating and nurturing exceptional employees and institutions in the commercial finance industry.

Click for information about our trade finance solutions.

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Yantian Shenzhen Terminal Explosion

Sadie Keljikian, Express Trade Capital

An explosion and subsequent fire broke out at the Yantian Container Terminal on the evening of November 10th. The fire was said to be highly destructive, burning at least one container, assumed to be full of lithium batteries, straight through the bottom. Click here for more details from Maritime Bulletin.

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Holiday Hours Announcement

Valued clients and associates:

Please be aware that we will be closing our office at 3pm EST on Wednesday, November 22nd and will remain closed through Friday the 24th in observance of Thanksgiving. We will resume normal operational hours (Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm) on Monday, November 27th and ask that you please plan your transactions accordingly.

All of us at ETC wish you a very happy holiday!

Four Things to Know About Blockchain

Beixi Li, Guest Correspondent

Since its invention as a technology for Bitcoin in 2009, blockchain has expanded its applicability beyond cryptocurrency into other industries. Driving this expansion are the fundamental changes that it enables and the benefits that it brings to business transactions. Let’s take a look at the four most important concepts you need to know to understand blockchain today.

  1. How it Works

Imagine a financial transaction: one party requests money, another sends money, and a third party may work to verify that the right amount of money is sent to the right person. Each party keeps a separate record of the transaction. At some point, records of the transactions may begin to vary, compromising transaction validity and integrity.

Blockchain technology creates a single record, known as a ledger, across all parties. A copy of this ledger lives on every computer in the network and is updated approximately every 10 minutes. Each change to the ledger is grouped into a “block.” This block is then connected to previous versions of the ledger, creating a chain of blocks, or blockchain. Each time a new block is added to the chain, all computers in the network are updated. As a result, blockchain replaces the current piecemeal nature of transactions with a single source of truth.

  1. The Benefits

Having a single, consistently updated ledger across all parties provides key benefits:


Each time a new block is added to a chain, all computers in the network receive the updated information. As a result, Blockchain technology guarantees that all parties view and reference the same data and that all are alerted simultaneously to any changes or updates. Having synchronized access to updates automates transaction accountability and visibility, replacing any manual validation or verification.


To add new blocks into a chain, multiple computers in the network validate the information in the block. Once validated, the information is published out to all computers in the network, providing every participant with the latest block of data. As identical data is decentralized across all computers in the network, hacking becomes virtually impossible. Hackers would need to change the ledger on every single computer to be successful. If only one or a handful of databases were altered, the discrepancy would be immediately visible and traceable. Only a validated update to the blockchain would affect every single database in the network.


The ability to keep parties on the same page at all times during a transaction removes the need to spend time resolving transaction discrepancies. Blockchain creates an environment that assumes a level of trust in business activities, allowing businesses to de-emphasize bookkeeping. Additionally, blockchain technology enables smart contracts: contracts programmed to execute automatically when specific criteria are met, eliminating the need for manual approval processes.

  1. The Debate Today

While blockchain shows potential for industry use, customizing it for each industry remains a work-in-progress. A key obstacle in industry-specific blockchain is the scale and level of publicity necessary for the network. Two types of blockchain networks exist today: public and permissioned. The original Bitcoin blockchain network was public: anyone could participate in the network and validate new blocks. New, permissioned networks only allow participants with permission to enter the network, receive data, and validate data. Permission criteria can come from government officials, rules built into the platform, and current participants. Currently, most enterprise blockchain technology being developed uses permissioned networks with the following key benefits and limitations.


Permissioned networks limit the parties who can join and the parties who can validate new blocks, which increases:

  • Scalability: Limiting the number of participants decreases the computing power and costs required to update every participant in the network.
  • Security of the Network: Only those with permission may enter into and add to the blockchain.
  • Privacy: Transaction details are only shared with approved participants.


The primary concern with permissioned networks is the limit to decentralization of data. Blockchain’s value comes from dispersing data through a large network using cryptography, and using that scale to hold all members accountable. By limiting that scale through selection criteria, the open, public nature of blockchain is constrained.

  1. Recent Developments

IBM has developed the latest advancement in blockchain technology with a platform to facilitate international payments. Currently focused on the South Pacific, the platform simplifies the transfer of fiat currencies from different countries, using cryptocurrency as a value holder in between the two currencies. This new technology aims to decrease both processing times and costs of international currency transfers, a time-consuming, error-prone process today. While currently focused on international money transfers, this platform has the potential to become the foundation of future trade agreements, including trade financing, to streamline the exchange and visibility of financial transactions.

Blockchain’s ability to provide one, consistently updated and decentralized ledger of transactions across all parties provides a groundbreaking technology applicable across industries. It has the potential to provide a new baseline of trust when conducting business, to create a more secure way of exchanging information, and to decrease processing times of current transactions. While still in early stages of development, companies have already begun developing blockchain platforms that could be the foundation of future industries.

To learn more about blockchain impacts on trade finance, click here.

Contact us for details on our trade finance solutions.