David Sutter has left Marco Polo Network to launch OpenTrade, a platform that seeks to connect decentralised finance liquidity pools to assets including supply chain finance.
Sutter joined Marco Polo Network – then known as TradeIX – in 2017, most recently serving as chief product officer. During his time at the blockchain trade finance consortium, he delivered its enterprise software platform and several bank-grade, blockchain-powered solutions into production with 30 financial institutions and their corporate customers.
Prior to this, he co-founded Hijro, a company focused on applying blockchain technology to mainstream financial services, in 2014.
Built on blockchain technology provided by Circle, OpenTrade embeds USDC stablecoin payments and financing directly into B2B networks and systems, which Sutter says will provide buyers and suppliers with a much faster, cheaper, and more efficient form of payments and working capital finance than exists today with legacy solutions.
Sutter is taking on the CEO role at the new company, while his former TradeIX colleague Jeff Handler is OpenTrade’s chief commercial officer. Joining him in the C-suite as co-founders are chief technology officer Tom Niermann – another ex-TradeIX employee who most recently worked at Meta – and Michael Harte as chief operating officer.
“We want to make investing into supply chain finance as simple as using [investment app] Robinhood. With a few clicks, investors will be able to invest USDC into funds that then automatically finance suppliers through their existing interfaces,” he tells GTR, adding that the aim is to originate supply chain finance assets directly from business-to-business networks, as well as accounting and enterprise resource planning systems.
Based on a number of factors such as ratings, size, currency or jurisdiction, OpenTrade will tokenise those assets and push them into a liquidity pool on a public and permissionless blockchain, where they can be purchased by investors using stablecoins. An on-chain smart contract will then deliver a stablecoin transfer to US dollars, which the supplier receives in their bank account.
While using blockchain to increase the flow of cash into the trade finance market isn’t a new concept, OpenTrade is setting its sights on the vast global pools of crypto liquidity.
“There is US$150bn in stablecoin capital that’s sitting there earning no interest. As opposed to speculative coins and tokens, investors are looking for on-chain assets that provide stable predictable returns. We’re going to be bringing an entirely new investor into supply chain finance, alongside the traditional existing funds,” says Sutter.
By using digital dollars in the shape of the USDC – the world’s second largest stablecoin by market capitalisation – OpenTrade is also seeking to make the process simpler and more transparent.
“One of the most important inefficiencies that I’ve seen over my career is that while the assets are digital, the payments remain offline,” says Sutter. “That causes a massive reconciliation headache, and you really haven’t changed anything. But when the movement of value and the movement of assets is on the same public permissionless blockchain, you can automate the entire financing process and payment flow across the entire transaction lifecycle using smart contracts, which is a huge differentiator.”
Aside from supply chain finance, OpenTrade’s launch products include liquidity pools for US treasuries and commercial paper.
Sutter is the latest departure from Marco Polo Network. In September last year, Daniel Cotti, the consortium’s managing director, centre of excellence banking and trade, left the firm to focus on consulting, joining rival trade finance platform Contour as an advisor the following month.
Marco Polo Network has not announced a replacement for Sutter.