HSBC and BNP Paribas have become the first to pilot essDocs’ electronic bill of lading capability on the Voltron blockchain platform
It is the second e-bill of lading (eBL) provider that has been integrated with the Voltron platform for digital letters of credit, following a number of pilots with Bolero last year.
The live transaction involved Rio Tinto and Cargill, supported by HSBC Singapore and BNP Paribas respectively. It saw Rio Tinto selling a bulk shipment of iron ore, which originated from Australia, to China for a Cargill customer, with an import letter of credit issued by BNP Paribas on Voltron.
The bill of lading, meanwhile, was digitally transmitted using essDocs’ CargoDocs solutions, DocEx and DocHub. This integration allowed all trade participants – including the ship agents and ship owner – to digitally draft, approve, sign, issue, transfer and electronically present the eBL.
The transaction also saw Voltron connect with the Intelligent Contract Platform (ICP), a contracts data management solution for the commodity and freight markets provided by Swedish technology company Chinsay. The two corporate clients, Rio Tinto and Cargill, used this solution to digitally create, issue, approve and digitally sign commodity contracts.
The integration between the three solutions meant that all documents were presented electronically. The issuance of the letter of credit was completed in less than two hours, down from one to two days for a traditional, paper-based letter of credit, the companies say in a statement. They further note that the digital process gave more flexibility, allowing for multiple drawings within one letter of credit, instead of just one payment.
The pilot is the latest in a range of live transactions conducted on the Voltron platform in various sectors such as soybeans, plastic derivatives, metals, wool and oil, involving a number of the eight founding members of Voltron: Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, CTBC Holding, HSBC, ING, NatWest and SEB. Standard Chartered.
The latest integration with essDocs and Chinsay seems to be part of a wider move by the consortium to link Voltron with technology solutions that digitise other parts of the trade journey, such as the eBL and logistics.
Most recently, HSBC and one of its corporate clients in the UAE integrated Voltron with a new blockchain-based supply chain platform called ReChainME and completed two live pilots.
In April, essDocs announced that it, too, was working with Voltron on a similar use case, which has now resulted in the first transaction.
Bolero and essDocs are today the market’s most prominent providers of digital bills of lading.
As previously reported by GTR, the Voltron consortium is currently looking to establish an independent legal entity by the end of the year that can bring Voltron into production. This is a similar approach to other blockchain consortia, such as we.trade and komgo, which are run by independent companies created by bank shareholders to own and operate the platforms.
The group is also looking to scale the technology to more players. Earlier this year, a six-week trial saw the participation of no less than 50 banks and corporate participants, who are now in the process of deciding if they wish to formally join project Voltron.