Blog article

No more nerdiness! The key to trade finance innovation

Gregory Gobel
March 19, 2024

Steering clear of the pitfalls of 'nerdiness,' or the tendency to get lost in one's own specialised language and expertise, Lode Vermeersch advocates for a balanced approach to innovation. Through Credendo's innovation hub, AREA42, the focus is squarely on solving real-world trade finance challenges with solutions that make complex solutions accessible and beneficial to all.

Trade finance is as old as trade itself, but innovation is not just a buzzword! It’s the cornerstone of progress and customer satisfaction. Lode Vermeersch, the Group Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at Credendo and Head of AREA42 (Credendo’s innovation lab), sheds light on how transcending the confines of specialisation and embracing a holistic approach to innovation is pivotal for the sector's advancement.

In this blog post, we’ll give you brief summaries of some of the topics that Lode discusses in his recent interview with Belgium’s House of Executives. 

The Double-Edged Sword of Specialisation

Lode’s interview includes an insightful critique of ‘nerdiness’ – an over-reliance on specialised jargon and expertise that, while demonstrating deep knowledge, often acts as a barrier to innovation and cross-functional understanding.

The point he makes is this: while innovating in trade finance and intellectual property, where adaptability and user-centric solutions are key, such jargon-based nerdiness can inadvertently stifle creativity and progress. Everything should be understandable to a layperson.

Fostering Innovation through Collaboration

Central to Credendo’s approach is the innovative fusion of strategy and innovation within a single role, a testament to Lode’s belief in the power of integration, be it ideas, approaches or departments.

This unique positioning not only streamlines the ideation and implementation processes but also ensures that every initiative is aligned with the company’s broader objectives and, most importantly, helps to deliver on real customer needs.

AREA42: Pioneering the Future of Trade Finance

The most exciting part of the discussion revolves around AREA42, Credendo’s in-house innovation hub. Yes, that’s us! (No bias here, eh hem!) This initiative exemplifies the company's commitment to solving real-world problems through technologically advanced, risk-savvy, and user-friendly solutions. 

AREA42 is not just an innovation lab; it's a testament to the belief that the future of trade finance lies in understanding and meeting the ever-changing needs of the global market.

Embracing Failure as a Stepping Stone

Vermeersch's philosophy on innovation extends to the acceptance of failure as an inherent part of the innovation process. The 'try fast and fail fast' approach underlines the importance of resilience and learning from setbacks, ensuring that each failure moves one step closer to groundbreaking solutions.

A Call to Action

The conversation with Vermeersch is not just an exploration of Credendo's innovative practices but a call to action for the entire trade finance sector. It highlights the urgent need for companies to break down silos, embrace collaborative innovation, and remain relentlessly focused on the customer experience.


Finally, with a name like AREA42, one might wonder what the question is! According to Lode:  ‘Why?’

Lode explains: ‘If someone can explain the why of something fluently and well, then there is certainly a good reason to do or change something. Without a clear answer to that question, you often conclude that there is no good reason.’

Wrapping up

Lode Vermeersch’s insights provide a blueprint for navigating the complex landscape of trade finance innovation. By valuing interdisciplinary collaboration, nurturing a culture that embraces trial and error, and keeping the customer's needs at the heart of innovation, Credendo and AREA42 are not just anticipating the future of trade finance but actively shaping it. 

For a deeper understanding of Credendo’s innovative approaches and strategies, we highly recommend that you explore Lode’s full interview at House of Executives

(Bear in mind that the interview is in Dutch, but with automated translation tools these days, you can toggle to your language of choice. Enjoy!)