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Banking giants HSBC, BNP Paribas and others team up to bring blockchain to letter of credit transactions

Photo by Pietro Jeng on Unsplash

Wed, 24 Oct 2018, 06:03 am UTC

A number of banking giants are teaming up with Bain, CryptoBLK, and R3 for a new initiative focused on leveraging blockchain technology in trade finance.

Dubbed “Voltron,” the initiative has been founded by Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, CTBC Holding, HSBC, ING, NatWest, SEB and Standard Chartered. Together with Bain, CryptoBLK, and R3, the founding members have launched an open industry platform, a corporate customer pilot programme, and a technology partner programme on R3’s Corda blockchain platform.

The announcement follows Voltron’s successful pilot with food and agriculture conglomerate Cargill in May. Voltron said it is in active discussions with a number of corporates.

Voltron has launched an open platform for documentary trade, targeting production on Corda in 2019. Initial focus will be on developing a blockchain application for creating, exchanging, approving and issuing letters of credit. The objective is to digitize the manual, time-consuming processing of paper documents in international trade.

“In the first phase the project will prepare for the launch of an open trading network linked to Voltron as well as a first version of the application. A number of pilots will be run together with corporate customers in this step,” SEB said.

The platform will enable corporate customers to connect with their banks and trading partners via a single, simplified channel, for both issuance of letters of credit and presentation/exchange of documents. In addition, trade documents produced on external networks by a corporate’s supply chain partners can be digitally sent, verified and processed in Voltron.

According to the official release, Voltron is working with four leading trade finance platform vendors to design and build a solution that will offer a Voltron-enabled service to their existing bank and corporate customers. At launch, the platform will include the Bolero network and electronic Bill of Lading (eBL) functionality.

In addition, a unique partner programme will enable trade finance platform providers to offer a Letters of Credit solution on the Voltron business network.

“Our focus on industry collaboration and open networks uniquely positions Voltron to scale by leveraging the Corda Network to ensure interoperability with other global trade initiatives and other networks including supply chain, cash, insurance and identity,” R3 CEO David E. Rutter said.

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