A new blockchain trade finance platform developed by a dozen banks, among them HSBC, BNP Paribas, and Standard Chartered, launched this week in Hong Kong, Reuters reported Oct. 31.
The platform, dubbed eTrade Connect, aims to improve efficiency in the financing of international trade by reducing the time needed to approve trade loan applications from thirty-six to just four hours. HSBC is reported to have earned $2.52 billion in trade-finance revenue in 2017, making it one of the global banking leaders in the industry.
As of 2017, trade finance transactions were worth over $9 trillion, and the industry remains heavily reliant on legacy systems and cumbersome paper-based systems, according to Reuters.
The eTrade platform digitizes trade documents and automates many trade finance processes, streamlining the interactions between counterparties. Beyond efficiency, the system is expected to mitigate the risks of fraud in letters of credit (LoC) and other relevant documents, Reuters reports.
The first successful transactions to be exchanged and confirmed on the new platform were purchases by Pricerite, a furniture and households goods retailer. The company’s chairman, Bankee Kwan, told Reuters that “[b]lockchain has transformed a cumbersome, complex process into a simpler but more secure and efficient way of conducting trade.”
Alongside HSBC, BNP Paribas, and StanChart, the Agricultural Bank of China was reportedly involved in the platform’s development, which was facilitated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).
Trading platform we.trade, which also counts HSBC as founder bank, alongside Rabobank, Santander, Société Générale, UniCredit, Deutsche Bank, and others, collaborated with Hyperledger Fabric-powered European blockchain to complete its first live operations this July.
This May, HSBC completed what it was reported to be “the world’s first ever” trade finance transaction powered by blockchain: an LoC (Letter of Credit) for food and agricultural giant Cargill, the U.S.’ largest private company by revenue.