TradeAssets, the blockchain-powered e-marketplace for trade finance assets, is now live with 25 banks.
The first transaction was completed on February 6, and the onboarded banks have now posted trade finance assets worth millions of US dollars, according to Fintech Innovations International, the UAE-based company behind the platform.
TradeAssets is a Hyperledger Fabric-based auction platform for trade finance distribution, developed by fintech firm KrypC. It allows seller banks to list trade assets (such as letters of credit, trade loans and guarantees) for sale, and buyer banks to place a bid and agree the price with the seller.
As an online solution, TradeAssets is technically not geographically restricted, but the founders have had an initial focus on the GCC and the Indian subcontinent, having now onboarded banks from Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India.
These include Bank Muscat, Rakbank, Yes Bank, Prime Bank, Bank Asia and Southeast Bank.
“This is our first year,” says Lakshmanan Sankaran, founder and CEO of Fintech Innovations International. “We have always believed we should not go everywhere. That’s why we took a corridor approach, starting with the GCC and the subcontinent, and now adding new corridors and looking at which banks are doing a lot of trade.”
Sankaran, former head of trade finance at Commercial Bank of Dubai, founded Fintech Innovations International and TradeAssets together with Sumit Roy, previously managing director at Deutsche Bank in Dubai.
Speaking to GTR on the sidelines of the annual GTR Mena conference in Dubai on Tuesday, Sankaran said TradeAssets has a “strong pipeline of 100-plus banks”. He expects to have 50 financial institutions on the platform by June this year. The firm will then expand its focus to Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam, before going into China.
In addition to growing the platform ecosystem, the company is also looking to expand its use case further down the line.
“We could use the trading platform for other instruments, like bonds or liabilities,” Sankaran says. “We also want to involve corporates, because there is a lot of demand.”
The immediate focus, however, is to get the joining banks to integrate TradeAssets into their everyday workflow. This may well prove a challenge in a market where phone, fax, email and Excel sheets have for decades dominated the way banks sell and buy trade assets. As such, Fintech Innovations International is spending a great deal of time providing training to the users on how best to utilise the platform’s features.
“Banks needs to get used to using it. It requires a change of habit,” Sankaran says. “Today they take the phone or send an email to negotiate, but here, the platform sends an alert, they have to be watching for alerts, go to the platform and initiate a chat. They are not used to it. Bankers are very habitual, so it will take some time and coaching. The good thing is that everybody has realised that the way to go forward is digital. That helps us.”
Similar platforms have emerged over the last couple of years in the US, Europe and Asia with the likes of Mitigram, CCRM and LiquidX gaining support. According to Sankaran, however, these have slightly different business models and ecosystems and have not penetrated TradeAssets’ target market.