Pan-European banking services firm UniCredit has been involved in the launch of the first live trading platform run on blockchain technology. We.trade – which is built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and powered by Hyperledger Fabric – aims to provide a more cost-efficient way for companies and banks to trade internationally.
The platform is a joint-venture, with banks including
However, UniCredit told Forbes that they are committed to expanding the scope of the platform, aiming to on-board new banks in the near future and also add non-financial banking services to we.trade, from industries like shipping and insurance.
The main commercial advantage of we.trade is that it allows companies to manage and track their transactions with advanced security thanks to blockchain technology. We.trade registers the complete trade process, from order to payment in one at-a-glance intuitive user interface, with automatic payment guaranteed when all parties involved in the deal meet their contractual obligations. Its fully automated nature – available 24/7 – also ensures a quicker order-to-payment process than traditional methods involving the movement of physical documents.
“We.trade offers a simple and intuitive way for companies to interact and trade between themselves that is completely digital,” explains Raphael Barisaac, the Global Co-Head of Trade and Working Capital Solutions at UniCredit. “There is no similar offering in the trade finance arena that harnesses blockchain technology in the same way.”
Barisaac told Forbes that he hoped we.trade would be used by a whole range of different sized firms across the continent. “We.trade is principally aimed at the SME market, being a standard platform offered jointly by multiple banks in various countries,” he said. “Ease of usage is a big driver for them and a key point of differentiation and we’ve also had conversations with many multi-nationals who are very keen to join as well.”
Within the first five days of we.trade’s launch, UniCredit revealed that ten companies had used the platform to successfully trade via four separate banks.
The launch of we.trade is one of two exciting announcements from the Milan-headquartered company, which recently topped forecasts with its best first-quarter results since 2007, along with signing the HM Treasury Women in Finance Charter, pledging their support to improving gender diversity in the financial sector.
“We hope to see many more companies leverage we.trade in the near future, “ Barisaac said. “For now, the process of gathering feedback from companies is an integral in the ongoing development of the product and incredibly significant in terms of unlocking the true value proposition.”