A new blockchain-based trade finance platform, developed by HSBC (HSBA.L), Standard Chartered (STAN.L) and 10 other banks, was launched in Hong Kong on Wednesday to boost efficiency in the multi-trillion-dollar funding of international trade.
HSBC said on Wednesday the platform, eTrade Connect, had allowed the Asia-focused British lender to reduce the time it takes to approve trade loan applications to four hours, compared with the usual one-and-a-half days.
Other major banks who participated in the development of the platform – facilitated by Hong Kong’s de facto central bank, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) – included Agricultural Bank of China (1288.HK) and BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA).
Trade finance transactions were worth over $9 trillion in 2017, but the industry is heavily paper-based, and follows processes and procedures that have changed little in decades, or even centuries.
The use of blockchain technology in the banking industry is expected to reduce the risk of fraud in letters of credit (LoC) and other transactions used in trade finance, as well as cut down on the number of steps used.
Distributed ledger technology, or blockchain, may provide a means to streamline some of these processes, and a number of banking consortia around the world are working on ways of doing so.
The e-Trade platform in Hong Kong aims to improve efficiency and facilitate counterparties’ ability to obtain finance by digitizing trade documents and automating trade finance processes by leveraging the blockchain technology.