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Wave kicks off live blockchain pilots for paperless trade solution

Fintech / 20-11-17 / by
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Wave, the fintech startup that last year completed the world’s first live blockchain trade transaction with Barclays, has now taken the next step towards releasing a commercial blockchain-powered product for paperless trade.

Together with Israeli shipping company ZIM and Hong Kong-based logistics firm Sparx Logistics, Wave has today announced it has successfully conducted a pilot using its application – the first to be completed by Wave in a live environment since its transaction with Barclays in September 2016, which at the time was claimed to be the first-ever live trade transaction using blockchain technology.

Wave was one of 11 companies to go through Barclays’ accelerator programme in 2015. Its service allows for the digital exchange and management of all shipping and trade-related documents (such as bills of lading, certificates of origin, certificates of inspection, invoices, etc) through a secure decentralised network. It targets all types of organisations involved in international trade, including banks, carriers, importers, exporters, customs and chambers of commerce.

Utilising blockchain technology, the solution supports trade transactions – a traditionally paper-intensive process – through reduced costs, error-free documentation and fast transfer of original documents. In the Barclays pilot, the parties were able to execute an export letter of credit in just four hours – something that generally takes seven to 10 days.

“With Barclays, it was a live transaction with all documents submitted through Wave,” Gadi Ruschin, Wave’s CEO, tells GTR. “However, it was in the very early days – it was a race to prove that it can work in a live environment. It was done on the most basic Wave application, which was not even considered to be a product. Since then, the application has evolved and we are now very happy to take the next step forward and expand the testing.”

Over the last year, the fintech company has developed the solution further, with feedback from a large number of players in the international trade ecosystem. In fact, according to Ruschin, Wave is now working with 57 banks and hundreds of corporates. 30 financial institutions have already completed proofs of concept using Wave’s application, while six banks are lined up for live pilots in the near future.

“We have had a lot of interest from different early adopters who are a bit more motivated to digitise trade and are willing to invest the effort and to help test the product before it reaches the open market,” he says.

The pilot with ZIM and Sparx Logistics tested specifically the issuance and transfer of bills of lading. The documents, which supported a trade involving containers shipped by Sparx Logistics from China to Canada, were “delivered to the consignees without a hitch”, Wave says in a statement.

According to Ruschin, Wave has also completed another pilot with a bank, which will soon be made public.

The next step, he says, is to release a new version of the product, then conduct more pilots, before eventually launching to the broader market.

“The next version of Wave, which will be a commercial product, will be released in the coming months,” Ruschin says. “It will have a nice interface and be much more robust. After that, we will start promoting the brand and create as many success stories as possible. When we believe it is tested enough in order to go full-scale to the market, then we start our go-to-market process,” he says, adding that the aim is for this to happen by mid-2019.

Other players in the trade space are similarly exploring the use of blockchain for the transfer and management of digital trade documents. Bolero, for one, which is one of the world’s leading providers of trade finance digitisation solutions, recently announced it had partnered with fintech consortium R3 to redesign its electronic bill of lading service using blockchain technology.

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