Seven Japanese firms, among them MUFG Bank, have invested ¥2.1bn (US$20mn) into an NTT Data-led blockchain-based trade data sharing platform, with roll-out expected soon.

TradeWaltz, which was set up as a legal entity earlier this year, stems from a cross-industrial consortium of Japanese companies created in 2017 by NTT Data. With the tech firm acting as its secretariat, the consortium worked with various trading companies, banks, insurance companies, shipping companies, and other industry players to examine how to make trading operations safer and more efficient through digitisation.

As well as MUFG, the consortium includes Mitsubishi Corporation, Toyota Tsusho, Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance, Kanematsu Corporation, and Sompo Japan Insurance as investors, as well as various carriers, logistics firms and financial services companies as members.

Following proofs of concept of NTT Data’s technology with Singapore’s National Trade Platform (NTP) Singapore and Thailand’s National Digital Trade Platform (NDTP), the TradeWaltz platform, which uses blockchain to connect trade-related information, began to take shape.

With this joint investment, TradeWaltz has now officially launched. Administration, development, and management of the platform will be handled by its namesake legal entity, while the seven investors have pledged to jointly develop the platform into a practical and commercially viable business.

“TradeWaltz will endeavour to improve operational efficiency by digitising all trade-related documents and provide new value through the use of trade data,” says Hirohisa Kojima, TradeWaltz’s CEO. “Our mission is to make safe, secure and smooth trade a reality for all of our platform’s users.”

The first step will be a sequential rollout, whereby the platform is adopted for different processes with new functions added and other improvements made where necessary. TradeWaltz now plans to start connecting government agencies, service providers, and other players both in Japan and abroad to promote the digitalisation of trading operations in Asean and beyond.