After undergoing development for over a year, the first live trades have occurred on the IBM-powered trade finance blockchain platform, we.trade.
Through four banks, 10 firms were able to execute 7 trade transactions across 5 countries in the last 5 days. These are the first such trade transactions employing blockchain technology to be considered commercially viable.
The we.trade digital trade solution, which has been developed using the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology, leverages smart contracts making it possible for event-based payments to be made automatically. Following a competitive bidding process that drew six tech companies, IBM was granted the contract to offer a cloud-based platform last year in June.
Members of the we.trade consortium include UniCredit, Societe Generale, Santander, Rabobank, Nordea, Natixis, KBC, HSBC and Deutsche Bank. To make the we.trade blockchain platform a reality all the internal procedures and governance of the banks were met.
Originally known as Digital Trade Chain
The consortium, which initially went by the name of Digital Trade Chain before a rebranding exercise, was formed in 2017 with a view of closing the financing gaps that hamper both cross-border and domestic trade with regards to small and medium-scale enterprises located in Europe.
Mid last month a legal entity for the we.trade platform was created in order to allow the partners in the consortium to offer the blockchain solution to their clients. This resulted in the formation of a joint venture known as we.trade Innovation DAC which was incorporated in Dublin, Ireland. The nine founding banks are equal shareholders in the JV which will own, manage and well as distribute the we.trade blockchain platform.
Looking Beyond Geographical Boundaries
Currently, we.trade is available in eleven countries in Europe and this includes the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, France, Finland, Denmark and Belgium.
According to the chief operating officer of we.trade, Roberto Mancone, the joint venture will, however, not limit itself to the countries in which its founding members are based in:
“…We are delighted to have launched for the first time in the world, a blockchain based platform that enhances the overall customer experience when trading internationally. The next step will be getting buy-in from additional banks and their customers in Europe and further afield.”
Besides expanding into new markets, we.trade also looking to allow some banks to join on a license-type basis as this will allow a faster expansion to as many financial institutions as possible. These banks will be provided with their own node on the blockchain thus allowing them to offer their clients access to the we.trade platform. Additionally, the joint venture intends to enlist other trading partners including credit agencies, freight forwarders and shippers.