Category: SME & Supply Chain

All news related to SME and Supply Chain Finance

Kenyan bank and fintech firm launch supply chain finance platform

From Global Trade Review (GTR) | By Sanne Wass

Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), Kenya’s largest privately-owned bank, has launched a new supply chain platform to finance more SMEs.

With Kenya’s commercial interest rate capped at four percentage points above the central bank’s benchmark rate, the move could provide a much-needed capital to small businesses in the country.

CBA has launched the solution in partnership with Nairobi-based fintech firm Ennovative Capital (ECap), which built the platform, and the African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, which funded the acquisition of the technology.

Implementation of the system started in April last year, and CBA has been running pilots with one of its big corporate clients since December.

It has also been piloting by buying goods itself, financing its own suppliers (including marketing agencies, IT vendors, suppliers of food, water and cleaning services) via the platform.

The technology enables CBA to offer reverse factoring, a form of financing that allows suppliers of its corporate clients to get paid before the stipulated credit period. The platform works as a marketplace where suppliers can trade their approved invoices, with no need for credit assessment.

Speaking to GTR, CBA’s value chain financing manager Euster Seghete Gerald says the bank has had “substantial interest” from corporate clients in the new solution.

She expects CBA to onboard at least five corporates and their suppliers over the next year, but going forward this specific form of financing is “a very clear growth area for the bank”.

“We have buyers who do over €200mn of supply payments in a year. So the potential is immense,” she adds.

Supply chain finance has been of interest to banks around the world for many years, as it offers them an opportunity to move away from traditional trade finance instruments like letters of credit, towards open account trade.

In Kenya specifically, however, it could be a crucial way for banks to be able to provide funding to SMEs under the country’s current interest rate cap.

Since September 2016, Kenya has capped commercial lending rates at four percentage points above the central bank’s benchmark rate, which now stands at 9.5%. While the aim was to limit the cost of borrowing for businesses and individuals, it has to a large extent had the opposite effect, with banks deeming SMEs too risky to lend to under the cap.

“Supply chain financing is big because, with the interest rate capping in the industry, many banks are looking at lending to the SMEs without having to take the risk of the SME,” Gerald explains. “Supply chain financing offers that comfort where the actual beneficiary of the funds is the SME, but the payment is coming from your corporate buyers. So the risk is way lower than any other financing, it’s almost risk-free if you are comfortable with the buyer”.

The new platform is also open to overseas suppliers, which according to ECap’s CEO Kefa Nyakundi makes it “a perfect solution for boosting intra-Africa trade and therefore facilitating the aspirations in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement signed earlier in the year”.

His statement follows doomy predictions from Moody’s saying that lack of trade finance and other non-tariff barriers would limit the full potential of a continental free trade.

The post Kenyan bank and fintech firm launch supply chain finance platform appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

First Singapore fintech to join FCI

From Global Trade Review (GTR) | By Elisabeth Spry

Incomlend has become an affiliate member of FCI, the largest global factoring industry association, and the first Singapore fintech to join the association. FCI is the leading representative body for factoring and financing of open account domestic and international trade receivables, representing over 75% of the global factoring and receivables finance industry. FCI represents more than 400 top independent factoring companies in 90 countries around the world. For 50 years FCI has served as the voice of the global open account receivables finance association and network by facilitating and promoting factoring, invoice discounting and supply chain finance across regions. “Being the first Singapore fintech member of FCI is a great honour for Incomlend and a valuable recognition from the most prestigious and influential factoring body in the industry,” comments Dimitri Kouchnirenko, co-founder and director of Incomlend. “It is also a validation of Incomlend’s strategy focused on international receivables finance. The global factoring industry is undergoing a rapid technological transformation, where alternative finance platforms start coming forward to change the landscape and we are thrilled to be a part of the movement with the industry’s support.” “We welcome Incomlend to the FCI network and are glad to provide Incomlend with our worldwide support for receivables finance,” adds Peter Mulroy, secretary-general of FCI. “This is a landmark event confirming FCI’s commitment to growing digitalisation of global trade finance.”   The post First Singapore fintech to join FCI appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

IBM’s latest blockchain venture brings microfinancing to Africa’s SMEs

From Global Trade Review (GTR) | By Sanne Wass

IBM is rolling out a new supply chain finance platform across Africa, using machine learning algorithms and blockchain technology to extend microloans to small businesses.

The tech giant’s research lab in Kenya announced today that it is working with Twiga Foods, a business-to-business logistics platform for kiosks and food stalls in Africa, on a new concept for disbursing microfinancing to businesses using a blockchain-enabled platform.

The partnership has allowed Twiga Foods, which helps farmers distribute bananas, tomatoes, onions and potatoes to 2,600 kiosks across Kenya, to add financial services to its offering and thus scale its reach. Having piloted the platform with 220 small food retailers across Kenya over an eight-week period, the trial saw its customers increase their order size by 30%.

The platform is now ready to be rolled out across Africa – to new sectors and suppliers – by the end of the year.

The idea is to utilise something that most people in Africa have – mobile phones – to bring them something they haven’t – access to working capital.

During the pilot, all loans were executed via mobile and went directly towards working capital for the businesses. When a retailer had an order delivered from Twiga, they would receive an SMS with options for financing that order. The retailer would then respond, confirming which loan option they preferred. The average loan was around US$30, offered for four and eight days with an interest rate of one and two percent, respectively.

Speaking to GTR, Andrew Kinai, the lead research engineer on the project at IBM Research, says the platform is about “linking SMEs, their suppliers and the banks” and using alternative data to give lenders the confidence they need to provide financial services.

Small businesses are hugely important for most African economies, yet they often have difficulty accessing sufficient credit due to the complexities of financing processes, high loan costs, collateral requirements and lack of a credit score.

“These vendors are quite small, so if they were to go to a bank, the bank would probably want an audited account or collateral and things like that. These small businesses don’t have that,” says Kinai. “So what we’re trying to do with our solution is to use alternate data, which can give a good idea of how well a business is doing and leverage that to provide credit to these small-scale vendors.”

This data, which includes information on purchase history as well as repayment, is crunched by the platform’s machine learning algorithm to predict the creditworthiness of a vendor. Once the credit score is determined, the blockchain platform, powered by Hyperledger Fabric and executed through smart contracts, will manage the entire lending process, from application to receiving offers, to then accepting the terms and eventually repayment.

Connecting multiple parties, blockchain is an optimal technology to manage the loan process, as it becomes transparent to all permissioned parties involved, from the lending bank to the borrower’s bank and the loan applicant themselves.

While the pilot didn’t involve any banks, the next stage of the project will be to bring in lending partners, Kinai says.

The companies are also set to expand the project to more of Twiga Foods’ vendors, as well as to other suppliers, including outside of Kenya, by the end of the year.

“For this pilot, we were doing it with one supplier, but the vendors often have other suppliers. Each of these suppliers has a snapshot of how that business is doing. So in the next step, we’re envisioning we’ll have mutable suppliers, to give an SME or vendor a ‘financial identity’, which is composed of all of these snapshots from various suppliers. A blockchain network would be very important in managing this,” Kinai explains.

It is hoped that such a financial identity stored on the blockchain could help SMEs across Africa access a wider range of financial services in the future.

The post IBM’s latest blockchain venture brings microfinancing to Africa’s SMEs appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

Could regtech bridge the trade finance gap in emerging economies?

By Sanne Wass

New technologies such as machine learning and blockchain could help solve the de-risking problem among banks globally and widen access to trade finance in emerging markets.

That’s according to a new study by Centre for Global Development, which assesses six new regulatory technologies – machine learning, biometrics, big data, know your customer (KYC) utilities, blockchain and legal entity identifiers (LEIs) – and their potential to address the de-risking problem.

De-risking has hit many emerging economies since the financial crisis. Amid fears of heavy penalties for breaching anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, the rising costs of conducting the requisite due diligence and the lack of confidence in the respondent banks’ risk control, financial institutions, particularly in the US and Europe, have pulled back from what they consider to be high-risk markets.

According to research by Accuity, a provider of compliance software that helps banks to reduce exposure to AML risk, the number of worldwide correspondent banking relationships, which are critical to cross-border financial transactions, has been in steady decline from 2009 to 2016, falling by 25% overall.

De-risking has had unintentional and costly consequences, especially in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia Pacific. Among the biggest losers are small businesses that can’t access working capital or trade finance. As correspondents depart, they’ve left holes in the funding space, cutting credit lines and withdrawing finance.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) now estimates unmet demand for bank-intermediated trade finance of between US$110bn and US$120bn in Africa. De-risking is one factor behind the problem.

“Some policies that have been put in place to counter financial crimes have unfortunately had a chilling effect on banks’ willingness to do business in markets perceived to be risky – in part due to the high price of compliance,” says Vijaya Ramachandran, senior fellow at the Centre for Global Development and one of the study’s authors.

But, pointing to the new study, he says “regtech may be the solution to some de-risking woes”.

“What we’re seeing is that even as these policies are having an impact, financial institutions are coming up with solutions in the form of new cutting-edge technologies to help them comply better and faster with AML regulations,” Ramachandran says.

KYC utilities, for example, can reduce the amount of time correspondent banks spend on repetitive due diligence processes. Blockchain can improve the KYC data storage security.

Big data and machine learning can enhance correspondent banks’ ability to assess and manage risk through more sophisticated customer typologies and more accurate transaction monitoring. And biometrics can enable faster and more assured identification of individuals.

Over time, the study concludes, these technologies may alleviate some of the pressures on banks and “make holding correspondent banking accounts with clients in poor countries more likely”.

This enthusiasm about regtech is not new: GTR has previously reported on ways regtech can help the industry optimise compliance – a task that is still largely dominated by manual and mundane processes. A recent study found that banks could save £2.7bn a year by adopting machine learning and big data technology in their AML systems.

However, the argument that new regtech like machine learning and blockchain will bring banks back to de-risked markets is met with scepticism elsewhere in the industry.

“I don’t think technology is going to solve the problem. It’s a people’s, education and timing issue,” says Sean Norris, head of sales at Accuity.

He points to the fact that many of the de-risked countries, mentioning the likes of Afghanistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam as examples, “haven’t got processes right for very basic things yet” and are still “far behind” when it comes to prioritising and implementing the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s guidelines and best practices for AML.

“When you’ve got a bank in Jakarta that is still relying of self-declaration of a person in a KYC process, how is that going to be acceptable for a western bank? I don’t think technology is going to solve a behavioural problem and different attitudes to AML controls,” he says.

Norris doesn’t deny the power of technology – after all, Accuity itself is a provider of AML software and is also exploring the use of machine learning to minimise the number of false positives. He also argues that de-risking is in fact driving the acquisition of better technologies by banks in Africa and Asia to upgrade their AML processes.

For example, more banks are looking to adopt Accuity’s sanctions screening solution to demonstrate that they are able to meet global standards of compliance and improve their ability to strike up new business relationships with financial institutions around the world.

But talking about the adoption of artificial intelligence and blockchain within banks in de-risked regions is “a stretch”, he argues, adding that the technologies being adopted are those that “have been around for a long time”.

“It’s really just to comply with the core aspects of AML,” he says. “Sanctions screening, for example, is something that England and the developed markets have been doing for the last decade, which they have now started to implement or operate in the emerging markets.”

New or old technologies, the industry may have to wait a bit longer to see the positive impact on the de-risking problem. But one thing is certain: those banks who take AML seriously have the best chance of re-establishing their broken relationship, Norris explains.

“The western banks are going to be a lot more comfortable when the banks are taking this seriously,” he says. “Compliance should never be a competitive sport, but when you’re talking about de-risking in these emerging markets, a lot of them are over-banked and so it becomes really hard for western banks to pick the right partner. They are going to pick the partner that is taking it seriously.”

Read the full study Fixing AML: Can New Technology Help Address the De-risking Dilemma?

The post Could regtech bridge the trade finance gap in emerging economies? appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

OpenText and BlockEx to build supply chain finance blockchain platform

One of the world’s largest business networks has teamed up with a fintech startup to develop a blockchain-powered marketplace for supply chain finance.

OpenText, a Canadian firm that operates a business network of more than 600,000 companies, has partnered with UK-based BlockEx, a provider of a blockchain-based digital asset exchange, to explore the use of blockchain technology across the supply chains of the OpenText network and how it can help facilitate firms’ access to finance.

“Our partnership allows some of the world’s largest supply chains to simply opt-in to blockchain-based trade finance,” says Adam Leonard, CEO of BlockEx, calling the move “truly exciting”.

Also commenting on the new partnership in a blog post, Mark Morley, who is director of strategic product marketing for business network at OpenText, says the two parties will jointly develop solutions to provide increased visibility of the end-to-end supply chain information flow, which can help lenders monitor supply chain events, such as disruptions or late delivery of shipments, to evaluate vendor risk more effectively. Lenders will also be able to identify when assets have been pledged as well as extend their offering to pre-delivery financing. Finally, a blockchain-based solution can prevent fraudulent invoices from entering the supply chain.

“Blockchain is ideal for traceability use cases within the supply chain, especially where raw materials need to be tracked from source to final destination,” Morley writes. “Born out of the financial services sector, blockchain stands to transform the way in which companies engage with trading partners across a supply chain.”

As previously reported by GTR, blockchain is well suited for tracking and tracing the physical supply chain. The technology ensures that records cannot be duplicated, manipulated or faked, and because it allows data to be entered, shared and viewed across the supply chain, the goods’ journey from farm to plate is immediately visible and transparent to all parties. Some fascinating developments are already underway, including projects that use blockchain technology to trace diamonds, wine, coffee beans, cotton, avocados and fish.

The ability to monitor goods securely also makes blockchain technology ideal for managing the end-to-end supply chain finance process.

“Supply chain finance is a great use case for blockchain as the process needs to effectively manage the orchestration of transactions between buyers, suppliers and lenders, as well as other businesses such as third-party logistics carriers involved with shipping goods across the supply chain,” Morley continues. “It brings a new level of transparency to supply chain processes, something that lenders have typically struggled to achieve to date, especially for shipments moving across multiple country borders.”

BlockEx’s platform allows for digital asset creation, issuance and trading. The startup works with trading firms, institutions and governments, providing bespoke blockchain implementations and proof of concepts.

The post OpenText and BlockEx to build supply chain finance blockchain platform appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

FMO and above & beyond launch Fintech platform for African Banks to accelerate financial inclusion

The Hague, 18 September 2017 – FMO, the Dutch Development Bank, together with Miami based Fintech and digital transformation strategists above & beyond (a&b), today launch “ FinForward”, a marketplace where Fintech companies, Financial Institutions (FIs) and Mobile Money Providers (MMPs) in Africa are matched. After matching, they enter a testing environment where the banks and Fintechs can test and integrate new financial technology solutions in a safe and secure manner.

The objective of the new platform is to accelerate the digitization of the financial industry in Africa by supporting innovation of the core business with digital solutions. The matching and integration tool will make global Fintech companies accessible and top-of-mind to African financial institutions in order to help them to reduce costs, innovate, add services, tap into new revenue streams and work towards open banking platforms. It will also enable them to service difficult to reach segments such as the bottom of the pyramid, women and small entrepreneurs. FMO‘s Andrew Shaw, Senior Fintech Specialist, “We feel that the Fintech conversation is less about who is the disruptor and who is the incumbent, and more about the ecosystem and new partnerships and alliances. We want to stimulate collaboration where it makes commercial sense, and where we can improve financial inclusion.”
“FinForward is one of a kind initiative that facilitates collaboration between Financial Institutions, Mobile Money Providers and Fintech companies. We are building a thriving interconnected global ecosystem integrated through one single platform”, added Jorge Ruiz, Co-Founder & CEO, above & beyond tech.

Fintech as a game changer for emerging markets – reaching the unbanked 

African financial institutions recognize Fintech as a game changer that allows them to increase efficiency and expand their client/product base. However, they admit that they have difficulties finding, choosing, testing and implementing Fintech companies and their solutions.
The high demand for financial services in emerging markets provides a large market opportunity for innovative Fintechs using new financial technology such as block chain, data analytics, artificial intelligence and new distribution systems such as online, mobile and agent networks.

Fintechs for emerging markets are active in areas such as balance sheet lending, platform lending, payment solutions, software-as-a-service (SaaS), digital field applications, alternative credit scoring, predictive data analytics and transaction verification via block chain.

FinForward, a 9-month program

The 9-month program aims to link Fintechs worldwide with financial institutions in Africa. How does it work?

–  Outreach – Banks, Mobile Money Providers and Fintechs are invited to join

–  Fintech Opportunity Scan – Participating banks and mobile money providers define their problems and needs

–  Matching – Pairing of Fintechs based on problem definition

–  Acceleration & Integration – Testing of Fintech solutions in a sandbox and integrating the technology into the bank’s operations

–  Showcase – demonstrate success during showcase days

About FMO

FMO is the Dutch development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development, and has a more than 45-year proven track record of empowering people to employ their skills and improve their quality of life. FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness, food & water. With a committed portfolio of EUR 9.0 billion spanning over 92 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector developments banks globally. For more information, please visit

Fintech startup brings blockchain and cryptocurrencies to invoice finance

New fintech startup Populous is introducing smart contracts, blockchain technology and digital tokens to the invoice financing space.

Having raised more than US$10mn in crowdfunding in just five days, the company has now started piloting its new platform, which lets firms and individuals sell or buy invoices globally.

The early support has been overwhelming, Populous’ founder and CEO Stephen Williams tells GTR. “We’ve been getting a lot of interest from other invoice factoring firms and financial firms that are not on the blockchain, wanting to join the project, including banks as well,” he says.

The platform is much like a conventional invoice marketplace, but the underlying blockchain technology brings a range of advantages, such as cheaper transaction fees, more efficient and faster processing, as well as improved transparency and security.

Williams says the startup aims to lower the barriers to entry for investors, allowing for far more accessibility to the invoice finance market. And with lower costs, it will bring increased liquidity to companies looking for financing.

Built on Ethereum, the platform takes advantage of smart contracts and a decentralised network, but none of its operations use or rely on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or Ethereum’s value token ether, which are often described as volatile. Instead, it uses Populous’ custom stable tokens – called Pokens – being stable in that they are pegged with fiat currencies around the world (although they can also be bought with other cryptocurrencies).

“With the smart contract, we have created our own tokens, our own currency in a sense, which the contracts accept,” Williams says. “For example, a guy from India wants to finance an invoice from Sweden, so he would place his money into the platform, and it will get converted into kroner Pokens via the smart contract.”

When an auction is live, investors can bid on an invoice within a timeframe of 24 hours. Their tokens are held in the smart contract until the auction has concluded, after which the contract executes itself depending on the pre-defined criteria, and the invoice seller automatically receives his tokens. These can again be redeemed in any fiat or cryptocurrency.

The whole process, however, isn’t completely autonomous, as the platform administrator still needs to carry out know your customer checks, and approve and manage clients’ accounts and actions.

The use of stable digital tokens, Williams says, is more straightforward, quicker and cheaper than conventional methods, especially for cross-border activities.

“If you think about the complexity around different currencies and settlements and consolidation of payments, it’s a much more efficient strategy to use tokens, and it opens up the market to the rest of the world,” he explains.


Initial coin offering

Having lined up clients, Populous started piloting its platform this week and will release the beta version in November, before going live in January next year.

The final steps were made possible after having received an unexpected level of support as the company was about to launch an initial coin offering (ICO).

An ICO is an alternative way for a startup to raise funds – as opposed to seeking investments from venture capitalists or banks – by issuing digital tokens. It is similar to an initial public offering (IPO) in that a stake of the company is sold to finance new projects, but in an ICO it is – like a crowdfunding process – open to any supporters keen to invest, and funds are typically raised in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin or ether.

Early backers are usually motivated by a prospective return on their investment, as a startup’s success would often translate into a higher token value.

In Populous’ example, US$10mn+ was raised in ether by issuing so-called platform tokens – these are different from Pokens and are classified more as an asset. While Populous had announced it would issue these asset tokens in an ICO on July 16, it never got that far. Having initiated a pre-ICO a week earlier – in which the token was first offered to a limited number of potential backers – Populous sold out after just five days.

Williams says most investors were high-net-worth-individuals, who were especially keen on the innovative approach to traditional invoice financing. “A lot of the people have not invested in cryptocurrencies before and haven’t participated in any ICO before,” he says.

Ultimately, the big beneficiaries are the invoice sellers, primarily SMEs around the world, who will soon have yet another way to improve their cash flow, now with blockchain and digital money.

The post Fintech startup brings blockchain and cryptocurrencies to invoice finance appeared first on Global Trade Review (GTR).

SME international payment platform launched

Payments provider WorldFirst has launched World Account, a platform allowing small businesses and online sellers to open local bank accounts around the world and make international payments.

Presented as an alternative to UK banks’ international business banking services, the platform will be available in the UK and Europe on limited release in Q3 2017, online and through a mobile app, with additional functionality currencies expected to be added later this year.

It aims to help SMEs manage their cross-border payments by opening multi-currency (British pound, euro and US dollar) bank accounts at no cost in the various countries where they do business, therefore reducing foreign exchange expenses.

Jonathan Quin, co-founder and CEO at WorldFirst, says: “Our research shows that over 1.5 million SMEs are trading more than £78bn a month across international borders. This is a significant contribution to the UK economy. It’s time that small and medium-sized businesses enjoyed the same products, price and service that was only previously available to big businesses.”

“Our World Account should solve what is a pain point for many ambitious businesses who buy or sell internationally enabling them to manage their international accounts in one single platform wherever and whenever they want. We think this will be the world’s most flexible financial platform to support a new era of international business.”

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New partnership to expand alternative financing for African SMEs

African Capital Investments (ACI) and the African-focused asset manager Barak Fund Management have entered into a strategic partnership to expand their financing offerings for African SMEs.

ACI is a boutique merchant bank that helps raise equity capital for African companies, with offices in London, Dubai and Cape Town. Since being founded in 2013 it has closed over 14 individual transactions, resulting in more than US$300mn of investment into Africa.

Barak Fund Management, based in Mauritius and Johannesburg, manages a portfolio of six funds, which over the past eight years has expanded from short-term trade finance to the longer-term asset-backed lending space to fill the funding gap left my Africa’s commercial banks.

The new alliance will see the two parties co-locate in their representative offices in London and Johannesburg to collaborate on projects that can leverage Barak’s lending expertise and ACI’s equity know-how to offer a wider suite of services to their respective clients.

“ACI has built a sterling reputation in the African advisory world,” says Barak founder Jean Craven. “We want to leverage ACI’s expertise, origination capabilities and UK presence to achieve our goal of becoming a multi-billion-dollar asset manager in the next five years.”

ACI founder Rob Hersov adds that the collaboration kicks off a “new chapter in ACI’s story”.

“Barak’s track record speaks volumes,” he says. “They offer a creative approach to lending and provide African entrepreneurs with a viable and fast-moving alternative to commercial bank debt. Together, ACI and Barak will offer a suite of services that will give us an edge over the competition.”

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Banks pull together for SME blockchain platform

Seven European banks have come together to develop a shared platform that aims to make domestic and cross-border commerce easier for European SME businesses through the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Deutsche Bank, HSBC, KBC, Natixis, Rabobank, Société Générale and UniCredit signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the development and commercialisation of the platform, to be called Digital Trade Chain (DTC).

The platform is based on a prototype trade finance and supply chain solution originally developed by Belgian bank KBC, that GTR has learnt is built on an Ethereum system.

“During a workshop organised by KBC with SMEs some years ago, we learned that SM’s could not be helped with the traditional trade finance products for mitigating their risk on the counterparty, or getting appropriate working capital solutions for their business needs,” a spokesperson for KBC tells GTR.

“That’s how we came to DTC: we saw the potential benefits to offer appropriate solutions for SMEs in Belgium.”

DTC, which is focused on open account transactions between SMEs across Europe, is intended to connect the parties involved in a trade transaction – the buyer, buyer’s bank, seller, seller’s bank and transporter – online and via mobile devices. It aims to simplify trade finance processes for SMEs by addressing the challenge of managing, tracking and securing domestic and international trade transactions.

KBC has so far spent around four months on development work and run some trials with customers, but declined to reveal any more details subject to confidentiality. By partnering with other banks and forming the consortium, KBC hopes to scale up the offering and make it pan-European.

“We are trying to create a trading community were we have an authorised network so that customers can initiate transactions online through mobile devices. The idea is to track every stage of this open account transaction all the way through to payment notification in order to accelerate the order to settlement process,” head of global trade and receivables finance at HSBC, Andrew Betts, tells GTR.

“In order to make it effective and to make it work we need to scale it within the industry and the SME population across Europe. We have taken proprietary technology from KBC and have shared it across the consortium and are integrating it into our systems and procedures in order to create a truly pan European proposition.”

The consortium aims to have solid case studies and testing completed within the year. The initiative is currently co-owned by all seven banks. Management and maintenance of it, along with the decision on whether it will stay on an Ethereum base, will all be up for discussion through the course of the year as the project progresses.

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