The Trade Finance Race Heats Up

Trade finance is possibly the busiest space in enterprise blockchain today. And while the people behind the different platforms may say they’re not in competition, that’s not how it looks from the outside. Still, NatWest specifically cited Marco Polo’s focus on standards and interoperability with other platforms as its reason for going with the consortium. Richard Crook, the head of emerging technology at NatWest’s parent company, RBS, told CoinDesk:

“Marco Polo has focused on creating an open standard, open to all underlying networks using R3’s Corda. TradeIX is the first but will not be the only vendor to build on top of this UTN to provide client facing services through their APIs.” NatWest joins BNP Paribas, Commerzbank, ING, Standard Chartered Bank, Natixis, Bangkok Bank, SMBC, DNB and OP Financial Group on the Marco Polo platform.

The consortium, Crook said, “worked hard to define a decentralized open ecosystem in which all parties can openly and evenly participate.”

The argument for Marco Polo’s approach to trade finance on the blockchain is that while development may take a bit longer, ensuring that the new systems can talk to each other is necessary if this technology is to fulfill its promise of removing friction from global trade. As it stands, there is a mishmash of platforms and protocols, which some domain experts fear could perpetuate silos.

Oliver Belin, CMO at TradeIX, said that banks today must try to avoid a situation where they work with other fintech players and platforms, as well as having an application developed in-house, and while also trying to work with other banks. R3’s Corda, he said, avoids the problem of multiple solutions. “I think many people are quite surprised that all these blockchain trade finance platforms cannot communicate between each other,” said Belin. “Most people – even some banks – think We. Trade can share information with other Hyperledger projects or networks, or even with Marco Polo, which is not the case at all.”

Source: Ian Allison, CoinDesk, Jul 17, 2018. The Full article can be read here: