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Contour launches to digitize and modernize trade finance

Today, a new independent global network to digitise and modernise the USD 18 trillion trade finance market has been launched under the new brand – Contour.

The launch follows a series of ground-breaking live pilots in 14 countries and a global trial with more than 50 banks and corporates, which reduced processing times for Letters of Credit by over 90%, from 5-10 days to under 24 hours.

Contour now moves into full commercialisation of its offering and has established itself in Singapore as a fully independent network and is inviting banks and corporates to join its beta network.

The business is backed by: Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, CTBC, HSBC, ING Bank, Standard Chartered, SEB, Bain & Company, CryptoBLK and R3.

Contour is built on R3’s Corda blockchain and retains the support and expertise of the R3 team. It is led by Carl Wegner, a trade finance veteran who joins following a successful tenure building R3’s presence across Asia.

The network is focusing initially on Letters of Credit (LoCs), which are issued between banks, typically across country borders. They serve as a guarantee for payments between two companies or entities who want to trade goods or services with each other.

The 400-year-old process for agreeing, issuing and tracking LoCs is largely manual, inefficient and costly. Each party must keep and verifying its own separate paper records, creating duplication and discrepancies.  Contour digitises LoCs on blockchain, helping banks and corporates save time and money by reducing old fashioned, duplicative processes.

While historically recognised as an excellent risk-mitigation mechanism, research by Contour reveals that 86% of participants consider traditional LoCs as over-reliant on paper, takes too long and is becoming ‘intolerable’ for both corporates and banks.

Carl Wegner, CEO, Contour said: “The opportunity cost in trade finance is huge. Trillions of dollars in commodities, products and services are transacted daily, but the sector is still characterised by slow, duplicative and expensive processes. Contour delivers a network where trusted information is shared in real-time, effectively digitising Letters of Credit across all users in the transaction.

“We are indebted to the community of banks and corporates who have collaborated with us to validate our solution which delivers genuine, measurable value as well as process improvement around Letters of Credit. With the launch, Contour is now available to provide a full commercial service to organisations looking to enhance their trade finance practices.

“We are now focusing on scaling the network with more banks, corporates and partners, and look forward to continuing to collaborate with our growing community.”

 

Media contact

E: contour@chatsworthcommunications.com

T: 020 7 440 9780

Images, interview and comment available on request.

 

About Contour:

Contour is building the world’s open trade finance network.  With industry-wide collaboration and blockchain technology we are dissolving barriers to create seamless trade.  Our network of Banks, Corporates and Partners enable the instant flow of trusted data across the world’s trade routes and fragmented ecosystems, creating a streamlined future for businesses.

www.contour.trade

R3 doubles down on London as post-Brexit technology hub

R3 has reaffirmed its commitment to London, doubling the size of its London Wall hub to accommodate its rapidly growing engineering team. The extra space will also support an aggressive hiring plan to increase the company’s global headcount from its current level of 215 to nearly 300 by the end of the year. The firm’s roster of new hires will consist largely of software engineers, along with commercial and client-facing roles around the world.

This initiative is a cornerstone of R3’s rapid growth plans that include an additional engineering centre in a new city by the early of 2020. R3 is currently evaluating the best location for the second site and will make that selection in the coming months.

The expansion represents a strong commitment from R3 to London. London has gained a reputation as a global technology hub and last year, despite the ongoing uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations, attracted more Foreign Direct Investment than any other city. It was independently ranked as the top global fintech hub by EY and Deloitte and hosts over half of FinTech50’s leading fintech firms.

While enterprise blockchain is still in its early years, it is now being deployed by some of the world’s largest companies across sectors as diverse as healthcare, insurance, capital markets and global trade. R3’s Corda blockchain serves as the foundation for many of these initiatives, becoming one of the leading blockchain platforms for enterprise use. The growth of the engineering team will ensure that the hundreds of businesses who build their applications on Corda can continue to deploy blockchain solutions simply and successfully.

David E. Rutter, CEO of R3, said: “There is enormous opportunity for London post-Brexit. While there clearly remain some uncertainties, we believe the city is well placed and established to thrive in the coming years. That’s why we are confident in making this substantial long-term commitment now.

“R3 is committed to ensuring the technology underpinning Corda is cutting-edge. To continue to do this, we need the very best people. It makes complete sense to look to London as we further develop the ways that blockchain can be developed and deployed.  As our software gains more use cases and across more sectors, we will be looking to invest further in top talent – London and elsewhere.”