We.trade completes world’s first blockchain-based cross-border trades

July 03, 2018
Chris Wheal

A blockchain joint venture between a group of European banks said on Tuesday they had completed the first live cross-border trades using their we.trade blockchain platform.

We.trade completes first global trade finance transactions: Shutterstock

We.trade was established by HSBC, Deutsche Bank, KBC, Natixis, Nordea, Rabobank, Santander, Societe Generale and UniCredit to make cross-border trade more straightforward for their business clients.

Blockchain in trade finance

The consortium reported that over the last five days, 10 companies had executed trades through four banks – the very first commercially viable open account trades using blockchain technology.

We.trade, which is incorporated in Dublin, was built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and uses smart contracts to replace the complex trail of paperwork traditionally needed to facilitate cross-border trade finance.

“These transactions prove that we.trade is a robust and commercially viable proposition,” said Roberto Mancone, we.trade’s chief operating officer.

He added: “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.”

Planned expansion

The next step, Mancone said, was to arrange buy-ins from additional banks and their customers in Europe and further afield.

Hubert Benoot, head of trade finance at KBC and chairman of we.trade, said: “This live trade is a massive achievement for all involved.

“Not only has we.trade built a technical solution, it has also managed to create real collaboration across multiple banks and increased the connectivity of the trade ecosystem.”

Governance challenges

One of the biggest challenges – aside from the technical application – was meeting the internal governance procedures of each individual bank.

“As we.trade has moved from pilot applications to conducting live transactions across borders, it has demonstrated the power of blockchain technology in an enterprise setting,” said Parm Sangha, GBS blockchain leader at IBM.

“To convene a large network of regulated banks and demonstrate how blockchain technology can help them gain efficiencies and provide greater transparency in live transactions is a disruptive model that has the potential to reshape the future of global trade finance.”

Currently we.trade is available across eleven European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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