IBM has taken a seven percent stake in we.trade, a blockchain-based trade finance network owned by 12 banks.
Initiated by nine banks in January 2017 under the project name, Digital Trade Chain, the platform was re-badged as we.trade in October 2017. The network went into live production in June 2018.
CaixaBank, Deutsche Bank, Erste Group, HSBC, KBC, Nordea, Rabobank, Santander, Société Générale, UBS, UniCredit and IBM are shareholders in we.trade while UniCredit AG in Germany, EuroBank in Greece, and ČSOB, Komerční Banka and Česká Spořitelna in the Czech Republic are licensees.
Built on the latest version of the IBM Blockchain Platform, we.trade is designed to connect buyers, sellers, banks, insurers and logistics organisations in a network that simplifies cross-border trading. Once on the network, traders can initiate orders, manage the order-to-payment process and attain financing. They can also search the network to discover new trading partners.
The banks backing the project say momentum has been building over the past few months as companies move to replace paper based trade finance exchanges with digitalised processes.
Ciaran McGowan, CEO, we.trade, says: "The enthusiasm for this platform underscores the need to continue to invest and expand access to a growing number of organisations."
Starting July 2020, we.trade intends to extend services to additional banks and clients across Europe before expanding the network globally, starting with Asia. At the same time, work will continue building interoperability with other distributed ledger-based trade finance networks, such as that already completed with Hong Kong-based eTradeConnect, a blockchain-based trade finance platform formed by 12 Asian banks.
Despite its investment, IBM maintains that banks on the network will be able to connect with rival cloud services from the likes of Microsoft and AWS.
Jason Kelley, GM Blockchain Services, IBM, says: "Innovative technology and new pricing structures will help more banks align to internal production controls using their choice of cloud services. Meanwhile we.trade aims to help banks create new trusted trade corridors and expand markets by interconnecting with other regional trade services platforms."