The Marco Polo blockchain platform for open account trade finance has facilitated another live pilot, this time involving Bangkok Bank and Commerzbank.
It brings the solution one step closer to production, which is scheduled for the second half of 2019.
The transaction, which was conducted between German glass manufacturer Schott (the exporter and client of Commerzbank) and Thai packaging manufacturer APA Industries (the importer and client of Bangkok Bank), saw payment being secured after digitally processing the related data transfer via Marco Polo.
Based on R3’s Corda blockchain framework, the Marco Polo platform aims to simplify and speed up the processes behind open account trade finance services throughout the trade cycle, with receivables finance and payments commitments being the first products tested on the platform.
The project is led by TradeIX and a growing consortium of banks. Having completed its first proof of concept in February 2018, Marco Polo has since become one of the largest networks in trade finance. It now has 22 member banks from around the world, including Alfa Bank, Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank, Banco Bradesco, Bangkok Bank, BayernLB, BNP Paribas, Commerzbank, Crédit Agricole, Danske Bank, DNB, Helaba, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, LBBW, Natixis, NatWest, OP Financial Group, Raiffeisen Bank, SMBC, Standard Chartered and Wells Fargo.
In the Schott-APA Industries transaction, order and delivery data were agreed between the companies via Marco Polo, and the payment was secured by a conditional payment commitment from Bangkok Bank. All parties involved – the trading partners and their banks – were able to communicate and view trading data simultaneously via specially set up digital nodes on the blockchain.
“Securing payments for commercial transactions with traditional instruments is often complex and lengthy due to the many intermediaries and the large number of physical documents involved in the process,” Commerzbank says in a statement, adding that Marco Polo made the trading easier and faster, though it has not said how much time was saved.
The news follows the announcement of the first live pilot on the Marco Polo platform in March, which also involved Commerzbank, as well as LBBW.
Following the two successful pilots, Commerzbank says in a statement the focus will now be on ERP integration, which involves “the complete mapping of transactions via the Marco Polo network with direct connection to the customer’s existing supply chain management systems”.
“It is planned to expand the network with additional banks and participants from the transport and insurance industries in order to map the entire value chain in the foreign trade business,” the bank adds.
It further notes that project Marco Polo is “on track”.
The platform’s go-live date is set for later in the year. It comes as a rival platform, Hyperledger Fabric-based we.trade, is already in production with 14 banks across Europe. It also uses blockchain technology to streamline open account trade finance.
Speaking to GTR recently, Dani Cotti, who heads up the Marco Polo initiative at TradeIX, said he does not see this as a challenge for project Marco Polo.
“We are not concerned about other networks being in production, because we are doing something very different,” he said. “We are building a global and fully connected trade finance network and are not only focused on a specific region, specific trade finance solution or client segment.”