Big Blue’s blockchain party just got a lot bigger.
Seven of Europe’s biggest banks have hired IBM to build a blockchain-based, trade finance solution for SMEs. Powered by Hyperledger Fabric and based on the IBM blockchain, the platform – the Digital Trade Chain Network – will make domestic and cross-border transactions easier and more transparent. The banks involved – HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Societe Generale, Natixis, Rabobank, KBC, and Unicredit – represent the Digital Trade Chain Consortium, which was founded in January 2017.
Speaking on behalf the Consortium, CIO of KBC Rudi Peeters said the Digital Trade Chain Network could “serve potentially thousands of the consortium’s banking clients.” Peeters credited IBM with being a fintech company in every sense of the word, highlighting the company’s combined experience in technology and finance. “(IBM’s) blockchain and banking industry expertise,” he said, “will help us create a new platform for small and medium businesses in Europe that can enable … faster, easier, and cheaper trade transactions.” Peeters added that the new platform will “help open new revenue streams and initiate new trading relationships and foster trade growth.”
Trade finance has emerged as “one of the strongest use cases for the technology,” according to IBM Blockchain general manager Marie Wieck (pictured). Focusing on small and medium businesses also brings this innovative technology to a market traditionally underserved by both technology and credit. Wieck said, “by addressing the SME market, which faces challenges in data sharing and access to capital, the Digital Trade Chain Consortium is pioneering a unique blockchain solution with the potential for widespread impact.” Production on the platform is scheduled to begin by the end of 2017.
It has been a busy June for IBM’s blockchain business. IBM Japan recently announced a partnership with AEON Financial Service to build a blockchain-based financial services platform for both consumers and enterprises. Also this month, IBM launched a collaboration with Colombia’s AOS to build a supply chain transaction solution leveraging the IBM Blockchain and Watson IoT. And working with AIG and Standard Bank, IBM piloted what they called the “first multinational, “smart contract-based” insurance policy based on blockchain technology. “Our pilot proves blockchain has a powerful role to play in the future of insurance,” Rob Schimek, CEO of Commercial, AIG, said, planting an insurtech flag on the landscape of distributed ledger innovation. “Any technology, including blockchain, that can increase trust and transparency for an industry whose pillars are built on that, should be fully explored,” he said.
Founded in 1911 and headquartered in Armonk, New York, IBM provided a look at its innovations with blockchain technology at our developer’s conference in 2016. At FinovateFall 2016, the company demonstrated its predictive analytics-based Customer Insight for Banking solution. With a market capitalization of $145 billion, IBM trades on the NYSE under the ticker “IBM.” Ginni Rometty is Chairwoman, President, and CEO.