Paperless trade enabler essDocs has become the latest member of blockchain trade finance network Contour, following an initial collaboration powering a trade transaction between Rio Tinto and Baosteel.

That deal, in which Baosteel purchased approximately Rmb100mn-worth of iron ore from Rio Tinto, marked the first paperless renminbi (Rmb)-denominated deal in the iron ore industry, and saw essDocs, which first partnered with Contour in April last year, manage the electronic bill of lading (eBL) and other documentation through its CargoDocs service.

Following the transaction, the two companies have now completed a full integration of CargoDocs with Contour, which means that all key CargoDocs capabilities, such as electronic bill of lading drafting, approval, signing, issuance, transfer, presentation, supporting document upload plus optional convert to paper, are now part of the Contour application, allowing for end-to-end paperless trade through one solution.

“Digitisation is no longer a ‘nice to have’ but rather a critical capability that streamlines trade and protects stakeholders,” says Alexander Goulandris, co-CEO at essDocs. “Cross-platform collaboration allows supply chain data to flow seamlessly, and is vital to enabling corporates and banks to benefit from more complete paperless trade solutions. Through this partnership, our mutual customers can access the full capabilities of Contour and CargoDocs from a single user interface.”

essDocs is the latest in a string of companies to get involved in Contour. Earlier this year, Chinsay, a Swedish tech firm focusing on the end-to-end administration of contracts in global commodities and freight markets, joined the network as an order partner, bringing in its Intelligent Contract Platform (ICP) tool, which allows corporates to capture contract data and share it with other businesses which need access or input.

Carl Wegner, Contour’s CEO, says that the network will continue to seek new partnerships. “Our continued growth aims to encourage all businesses to collaborate, and with essDocs joining the Contour network, we’re furthering our goal to digitise the trade finance industry,” he says. “With environmental concerns around the overuse of paper in the sector, as well as the need to conduct business in a safe, yet practical manner, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, this collaboration will allow us to provide electronic documents on our network, digitise the sector and improve the way trade finance is conducted.”