Skuchain, a US-based blockchain company, has partnered with Mitsubishi Corporation RtM Japan, the metals and mining trading subsidiary of Mitsubishi, to launch the ECO platform for precious metals trading.

Powered by Skuchain’s proprietary EC3 platform for blockchain-based supply chain management and finance, ECO facilitates trade by generating, managing and executing invoices and confirmations between counterparties.

Mitsubishi is the owner of the network and will bring along its largest customers as initial members of it, with plans to expand deeper into the supply chain. Features will be added to ECO on a regular basis, keeping the platform up to date, the companies say.

With ECO, parties can take documents used in trade transactions, such as invoices and confirmations, and use the system to sign them digitally, storing the signed documents on the blockchain. Those documents can then be shared with relevant counterparties. When doing so it is also possible to conceal specific fields that need to remain confidential, for example pricing or sourcing.

“Whoever is participating on a node in the network is able to see the rules by which their data is shared with others,” Rebecca Liao, Skuchain’s co-founder and COO, tells GTR. “Whenever someone wants to change those rules, they can go directly to their node and change those settings.”

She says that Skuchain’s clients are typically larger enterprises with deep supply chains as that is where the product has the most value. “Our anchor customers are about 10 enterprises across the globe. Japan is definitely our largest market because the country has optimised its supply chains to the largest extent using existing technology,” adds Liao.

Earlier this year, Skuchain partnered with Japanese tech giant NTT Data to build a separate platform for supply chain and logistics management.

In March, the company also established cross-blockchain interoperability in trade finance by linking together the EC3 platform with Corda, in the first example of the Bankers Association for Finance and Trade (Baft) distributed ledger payment commitment (DLPC).

“One thing that we’ve really been pushing is using a newer global standard called the DLPC to represent payment commitments on the blockchain – that really opens up opportunities for financing. At the most fundamental level, the DLPC ensures transaction interoperability between blockchain networks and replaces many old and expensive trade instruments. More will come on this in the near future,” says Liao.

Although financing will not be conducted on the ECO platform right now, Skuchain sees much opportunity in enabling this functionality. “We’re starting to see a lot of expansion in supply chain finance. The enterprises that we work with recognise that there are even more possibilities, executing deep-tier financing for instance.”

The pandemic has brought supply chain to the top of mind for a lot of enterprises, resulting in a “very busy” period for the company, which will only get busier as lockdowns and uncertainties drag out, she says.