Contour has been acquired by fintech company Xalts, reviving the digital trade finance consortium just months after it announced it would cease operations due to lack of funding. 

Xalts, which is backed by Accel and Citi Ventures, announced on February 20 it would bring Contour’s network onto its platform with a focus on embedded trade and supply chain finance solutions. 

Founded in 2022 by Ashutosh Goel and Supreet Kaur, former executives at HSBC and Meta respectively, Xalts says it plans to bring banks, logistics companies and tech firms onto a single platform. 

“Our vision is to expand the scope of Contour’s network which is trusted by banks and corporates, and build it into a rail that enables businesses to access digital solutions for trade and supply chain finance offered by banks, fintechs and technology partners,” says the company, which has offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK, the UAE and India.  

Historically, Contour’s central offering was based on streamlining letters of credit, bringing processing times down from an average of 10 days to under 24 hours end-to-end. 

After going into full live production in October 2020, a raft of banks joined the platform, while shareholders included major lenders such as Citi, HSBC and Standard Chartered. Contour eventually boasted nine bank investors and 22 bank members, as well as a handful of non-bank backers. 

However, by late September last year, it emerged that Contour’s backers were unwilling to provide sufficient funding, and in October, GTR revealed it had circulated a memo to members confirming operations would cease by the end of the following month. 

Contour said at the time the closure was not a reflection of fading interest in trade finance digitisation, but rather of the “incredibly challenging” investment environment. 

Several other digital trade initiatives had also closed their doors over previous months, notably AP Moller-Maersk and IBM’s TradeLens, Marco Polo Network and 

Contour chief executive Carl Wegner said upon Contour’s closure that the project “just needed more time”, and that funding for a further year would have allowed integration with a greater number of bank back-office systems. 

The company had been eyeing a move into embedded finance and open account trade, as well as a white-label offering that would sit behind banks’ customer portals. 

Xalts chief executive Goel says it plans to use Contour’s acquisition to create “a Plaid for trade” – a reference to the Silicon Valley fintech that lets customers build applications across a range of financial services, including payments, lending and digital banking. 

Kaur, Xalts’ chief operating officer, adds that combining Contour’s network with its own blockchain and tokenisation technologies will enable institutions “to build new innovative applications and products”. 

Xalts’ customers include large financial institutions, as well as regulatory bodies and technology companies. 

Citi Ventures director Everett Leonidas says: “We invested in Contour in 2020 and led the seed round for Xalts in 2022. The combination of these two companies into one firm with an expanded vision and a great leadership team will accelerate innovation in global trade finance.” 

Abhinav Chaturvedi, a partner at Accel, adds that Xalts “has demonstrated that they have the right vision and a team that can execute at a global scale very quickly”.