The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is to go live with its Trade Finance Platform (TFP), built on blockchain technology, in September.

Confirmation came from Nelson Chow, the HKMA’s chief fintech officer, speaking at this week’s GTR Tradetech Forum in the city.

It builds on a number of blockchain proofs of concept the authority has undertaken, as well as two whitepapers it has authored, which explore the technology’s potential in trade finance.

The TFP will feed into the Global Trade Connectivity Network (GTCN), another blockchain-based solution being built in collaboration with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

“The GTCN is in the design stage but the TFP is ready to launch in September. We’re in regular meetings with banks, but it’s important to bring other stakeholders into the ecosystem, the banks’ customers. This is the next stage everywhere, for each bank involved in the project, to bring in customers and showing them the value proposition. The last thing we want is to have the platform ready, but there are no customers,” Chow said.

He was sharing the stage with Serene Ho, director of Singapore’s National Trade Platform, discussing the collaborative work on the GTCN, which is set to go live at the start of 2019.

Neither party would reveal which functionalities of trade finance would be covered specifically by the GTCN, saying it was “too early to say”. However, based on previous discussions with the MAS and Singapore Customs, GTR understands that a digital letter of credit functionality is high on the agenda, as the authorities look to clamp down on fraud in the industry.

The aim is to involve other jurisdictions on the GTCN as soon as possible, and both authorities say they have had discussions with banks, governments and other blockchain consortia about joining.

“We have received lots of interest, not just from banks, but governments as well,” Ho said.

The GTCN was announced in October 2017 to much fanfare. Development has continued apace since then, with the Hong Kong banks along with DBS, OCBC, UOB, MUFG and Standard Chartered (Singapore) also being involved.

The authorities took pitches from trade finance service providers in November. The platform has been likened to an app store, where companies can log on and source all the services they need in one place.