we.trade, a blockchain-based platform that makes international trade faster and more efficient, today announced an enhanced collaboration with IBM which will enable network enhancements and accelerate the global commercialisation of the platform. IBM has also become a new shareholder along with the 12 existing bank shareholders.
Already one of the largest blockchain-enabled trade networks in production, we.trade is designed to improve the trade finance lending process, supporting companies as they grow their business and expand into new markets. Over the last few months, we.trade has seen momentum continue to build as companies move to replace paper based trade finance processes with a digitised solution.
Starting July 2020, we.trade will extend services to additional banks and clients across Europe before expanding the network globally, starting with Asia. At the same time, work will continue to help enable we.trade to interoperate with other distributed ledger-based trade finance networks, such as the work already completed with Hong Kong-based eTradeConnect, a blockchain-based trade finance platform formed by 12 Asian banks.
In the current climate, improving access to trade finance is critical to economic recovery. With disruption in many services that support traditional trade finance methods, there’s now an added incentive for international trade to go digital, including embracing platforms which offer digitized versions of once manual business processes to ensure signatures, contracts, and trade financing agreements can be virtually linked.
“No other distributed-ledger based platform for trade has moved so rapidly to deliver value for member organisations and their customers,” said Ciaran McGowan, CEO, we.trade. “The enthusiasm for this platform underscores the need to continue to invest and expand access to a growing number of organisations.”
Built on the latest version of the IBM Blockchain Platform, we.trade is backed by some of the world’s top banks including CaixaBank, Deutsche Bank, Erste Group, HSBC, KBC, Nordea, Rabobank, Santander, Société Générale, UBS and UniCredit. It is designed to connect buyers, sellers, banks, insurers and logistics organizations in a network that simplifies cross-border trading.
we.trade helps automate many of the processes around trade finance, as well as provide traders with access to insurance, credit rating and logistics services. 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.
A new IBM Institute for Business Value1 survey of more than 1,000 organizations globally found respondents said that accessing new markets is among the top motivating factors to join an existing blockchain network such as we.trade. Meanwhile 64 percent of respondents indicated that reducing friction in current processes and services was a top reason for using blockchain technology to augment existing trade digitization investments.
“The strategic direction for we.trade and IBM is focused on driving growth and transparency across the entire trade ecosystem, collaborating to enhance the network effect of blockchain, and expanding access to trade finance and other services to the market place,” said Jason Kelley, GM Blockchain Services, IBM. “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.”