Blockchain software startup R3, trade finance tech provider TradeIX and a group of major banks have moved their Marco Polo trade finance platform to the pilot stage.
The news follows on from what the firms call in a press release a "successful" proof-of-concept that commenced last September in partnership with BNP, Commerzbank and ING. The project is eventually hoped to see further expansion this year, with additional banks and third-party service providers, including credit insurers and enterprise resource planning and logistics providers, coming on board.
The companies aim to develop a "fully interoperable" open-source trade finance network built with R3's distributed ledger technology (DLT) product Corda and delivered over TradeIX's open TIX platform. The solution currently addresses three areas of trade finance: risk mitigation, payables finance and receivables finance, according to the release.
"The tests ING ran as part of the proof-of-concept enabled us to see the value this solution could deliver in three separate areas of trade financing. The technology ran fast and smoothly and the positive results showed us we are on the right track and ready to take the next step by entering into a pilot," said Ivar Wiersma, head of innovation at ING Wholesale Banking.
Traditional paper processing across supply chain processes is a "significant burden" to businesses, according to Connie Leung, Microsoft's senior director and financial services business lead, Asia. "The industry has been looking for solutions to simplify and digitize trade, making supply chain ripe for the benefits of blockchain technology," she said.
R3 is already working with Microsoft, having already moved to more deeply integrate its Corda platform with the Azure cloud service late last year.
International trade image via Shutterstock