Blockchain-based, European trade finance platform we.trade is to conduct a proof of concept (PoC) with the nascent Hong Kong trade platform, e-Trade Connect.
The PoC will determine whether it is possible to finance an invoice between the two platforms – in essence, whether they can interoperate to settle trade finance transactions.
At the Hong Kong Fintech Week today, October 31, a memorandum of understanding was signed between we.trade and Hong Kong Trade Finance Company Limited, a special vehicle set up by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). The pair are both based on Hyperledger Fabric technology and are used for open account trade finance, which accounts for 85% of the industry’s transactions, according to the ICC’s Banking Commission.
The two platforms have set an “aggressive target” of completing the PoC within three months, after which they will establish whether they can go into full production together, Nelson Chow, the chief fintech officer at Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), said at today’s event.
Roberto Mancone, COO at we.trade, told the event that there were two reasons they chose to partner with the Hong Kong-based platform over others.
“The first is that you have critical mass in terms of banks. We also see similarities in terms of services you provide on this. The goal was not just to combine famous banks in Europe with famous banks in Hong Kong, that isn’t worthwhile for the clients. But if the clients have a seamless journey, starting the journey in Hong Kong and ending in Europe or vice versa, this is the benefit,” he said.
Speaking to GTR on the sidelines of the conference, he said that we.trade is geographically agnostic and is happy to partner with national platforms that are compatible and which share the same standards. He said that if we.trade chooses to go into full production mode with eTradeConnect, it will take months rather than years.
eTradeConnect was launched today at the event, with 12 member banks and 18 corporates already onboarded. we.trade, meanwhile, is one of the most advanced private blockchain platforms in the trade finance space.
It entered the production environment in June 2018 with nine member banks: Deutsche Bank, HSBC, KBC, Natixis, Nordea, Rabobank, Santander, Société Générale and UniCredit. Four of those banks went live in July, HSBC, KBC, Nordea and Rabobank.
In October, we.trade merged with another European blockchain platform, Batavia. This saw CaixaBank, Erste Group and UBS join we.trade as shareholders, broadening the shareholder group to 12 banks.
While we.trade started as a European project only, the intention is to expand globally in 2019, with Asia being the next target market.
Haster Tang, CEO of Hong Kong Trade Finance Platform Company, says: “We are delighted to collaborate with we.trade and believe that the connection between the two platforms will revolutionise the trade finance ecosystem for the benefit of trade partners. The cross-blockchain connectivity between eTradeConnect and we.trade will definitely gain recognition from the stakeholders.”