Six of the world’s largest trade finance banks – ANZ, BNP Paribas, Citi, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered – have established a new venture to bring the Trade Information Network (TIN) into production. Having completed the platform build, the banks are now ready to pilot it with their clients.

TIN is a global multi-bank platform where corporate clients can submit and verify purchase orders and invoices to banks of their choice, essentially pulling together the multiple procure-to-pay networks and supplier portals that exist in the market.

Apart from making it easier for corporates to communicate with their banks, the ultimate goal is that this data will enable banks to better assess risks and provide a wider range of financing across the trade lifecycle and deeper into global supply chains.

By gathering purchase order and invoice data in one place, banks will also be able to check whether a document has already been financed, thus mitigating the risk of double-financing and fraudulent trade information across the industry – a challenge that continues to burden financiers.

The project to build the TIN (which was originally known as Project Wilson) was formally launched a year ago. The project’s technology provider, CGI, has since been working with the participating banks to build the platform, which is based on cloud technology and not blockchain.

The new legal entity, which was incorporated in the UK on September 16 as Trade Information Network Limited, will now own and operate the platform and continue development.

Alexander Malaket, an independent consultant who have been advising the banks on the project, has been appointed acting CEO. It will be an interim role for Malaket until a replacement has been appointed.

“The intention for the TIN is to become a very open, inclusive entity platform company that we hope will become an industry utility. It’s not the intent of the founding institutions to maintain any sort of control long term or preferential status. So it made sense to set up a separate legal entity,” Malaket says, speaking to GTR on the sidelines of Sibos 2019.

This model is one that has been adopted by other trade finance consortia in recent years, with in Ireland, komgo in Switzerland and Forcefield in Singapore being examples of independent legal entities formed by bank shareholders to own and operate new platforms.

According to Malaket, the first release of the TIN platform is now ready to be piloted by the shareholders. Additionally, three non-shareholder banks have committed to testing the solution, including Lloyds Bank, Standard Bank and a third bank that has not been publicly named.

“We’ve been engaging with the industry very early on in the process. Over the course of the project, we’ve had more than 40 banks sign non-disclosure agreements with us, so they’ve been helping us by providing feedback on our design, architecture, concepts and value proposition. There is a spectrum of levels of interest and engagement across those banks. A number of them are interested in piloting, and several of them are interested in becoming members once that opportunity starts to open up,” Malaket says, adding that the TIN will offer a tiered membership model where banks pay for using the platform according to size. At a later stage, he adds, membership may also be opened up to non-bank financiers.

He further notes that the project has received “promising” interest from corporate clients, who have been involved early in the project and are keen to take part in the pilots.

When asked about when he expects the platform to move beyond pilot stage and into production, Malaket explains: “We haven’t set a firm timeline, only because we literally just incorporated the company a few days ago. That’s something we need to go back, after Sibos, and start to think with the team how we plan the pilots, who gets involved, which corporates and which timeline. So it’s early days and we haven’t put that on paper yet.”