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Trade finance digitisation to make the world go round

Chatsworth is working with the Contour team to define the next chapter for trade finance through digitisation.

Paper and process driven, the traditional methods of trade finance create significant barriers for global trade growth, adding complexity, cost, and delays to both banks and corporates.

A digitised world of global trade would drive trillions in new global trade flows and extend the benefits to smaller corporates as well as large.

Contour is powered by R3’s leading Corda technology and uses the power of decentralisation to provide common tools and resources to help banks and corporates build a global network for trade, without having access to any transactional data or being a single point of failure.

The first step is to digitise what is one of the oldest and most important trade finance tools – the letter of credit.

Carl, Aaron and the Contour team are building great links across the industry, delivering a next generation solution for an important area of global commerce.

We’re proud to be working with them to tell the Contour story.

Chatsworth was the first communications agency to focus on fintech. We’ve been building fintech reputations for 20 years, steering start-ups through launch, growth and onto corporate action, and protecting and enhancing established infrastructures.

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Contour welcomes Citi into trade finance network

Today Contour has announced that Citi will join its trade finance network, increasing the number of banks that have invested in Contour as part of an industry-wide global collaboration effort. This investment through Citi Ventures will help Contour continue to grow as it develops the open network to create seamless trade and digitize the outdated process.

This announcement comes as Contour moved into full commercialisation of its offering last month after 2 years of successful pilots in 14 countries. Established in Singapore, Contour is now operating as a fully independent entity, welcoming banks and corporates into its beta network.

Contour’s network focuses on improving the Letters of Credit (LoCs) process. Traditionally paper based, Contour digitises LoCs to allow banks and corporates improved efficiency and greater transparency by building connectivity and trust between all parties in the transaction. This is achieved by using R3’s Corda blockchain and a growing partner ecosystem.

Carl Wegner, CEO, Contour said: “Seeing greater collaboration from leading financial institutions shows how important revolutionising the trade finance network is. With international trade being of such significant importance for the global economy, with trillions of dollars’ worth of goods in circulation, proper financing is vital for its continued growth. Our network provides trusted information in real-time, digitising the process for all users. To have a major global trade player such as Citi join us is a huge validation of the work we are doing and allows us to continue creating greater efficiency for the industry.”

Luis Valdich, Managing Director of Citi Ventures said: “The Contour team has a trusted background and is partnering with a strong consortium to help digitize Letters of Credit. Citi Ventures is thrilled to support Contour as it pursues its exciting vision.”

Click here to learn more about our other trade finance based clients.

Trade finance distribution poised to grow to $3tn market for investors

“The distribution of trade finance assets to nonbank investors could to grow to a $3 trillion market in the next seven to 10 years, according to Tradeteq Ltd, a digital trade finance exchange.” – S&P Global discuss banks seeing growth opportunities for their trade finance distribution business and collaboration with the Trade Finance Distribution Initiative. Tradeteq’s co-founder and CEO, Christoph Gugelmann, also comments on the growing interest.

Read the article in S&P Global.

Click here to learn more about our work.

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.”

Click here to learn more about our blockchain-based clients.

FXCM Group Adds Ripple and Bitcoin Cash To Expand Crypto CFD Offering

FXCM announced today  that it has expanded its cryptocurrency offering with the addition of Bitcoin Cash and Ripple.

Since launching crypto CFDs in 2018, FXCM has seen rising demand from retail clients seeking to expand and add new cryptocurrencies to their portfolios.

Bitcoin Cash is borne from Bitcoin but has the capacity to process more transactions due to a larger block size. Ripple tokens, known as XRP, have also become increasingly popular with retail investors.

By trading these cryptocurrencies as CFDs, FXCM traders have the incentive potential opportunity to go both long and short. Micronized CFD contracts allow clients to place trades in fractions, which lowers the minimum margin required to enter a position. In addition, profits are credited to a trader’s account instantly, rather than held in a crypto wallet or cold storage.

Brendan Callan, CEO of FXCM Group, comments: “Having successfully launched three different cryptocurrencies in the past 12 months, our clients are asking us to improve the range of crypto CFDs they can access. The addition of Bitcoin Cash and Ripple marks the latest stage of growth for FXCM’s burgeoning cryptocurrency offering and is in direct response to increased demand from our clients.”

 

A new drive has launched to develop multi-trillion dollar trade as an asset class

Fourteen leading global financial institutions have launched a drive to use technology and standardisation for the wider distribution of trade finance assets.

ANZ, Crédit Agricole CIB, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, ING, Lloyds Bank, Rabobank, Standard Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation are among the banks backing the Trade Finance Distribution Initiative (TFD Initiative).

TFD Initiative is powered by Tradeteq, the global trade finance distribution platform. Tradeteq’s technology allows banks and institutional investors to efficiently connect, interact, and transact.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) United Kingdom and the International Trade and Forfaiting Association (ITFA), the leading international association for banks and financial institutions involved in cross-border trade and forfaiting, have each joined TFD Initiative as an observer.

Trade finance is private financing that helps businesses cover mismatches between payment obligations and payment receipts resulting from the buying and selling of goods and services. It is a vital piece of the financial sector that supports importers and exporters as they conduct their trade activities.

Trade finance presents a compelling multi-trillion dollar investment opportunity for institutional investors seeking sources of attractive risk-adjusted returns with low correlation to stocks or bonds. TFD Initiative will initially focus on creating common data standards and definitions to enhance operational efficiency and improve risk management, creating a blueprint for global trade finance asset distribution.

Surath Sengupta, Global Head of Trade Portfolio Management at HSBC said: “As the world’s number one trade finance bank1 , HSBC is at the forefront of the industry in harnessing the power of new technologies to make trade faster, safer and more competitive. While trade finance is currently an attractive asset class for banks, we believe technology will unlock investment from non-bank investors by removing complexity and making the underlying asset data both more structured and accessible.”

Nicolas Langlois, Managing Director and Global Head of Trade Distribution & Liability and RWA Optimization CSDG & Transaction Banking at Standard Chartered Bank, commented: “Closing the financing gap in trade finance is about providing financing to small and medium sized enterprises. This requires developing new digital solutions to package those portfolios in a standardised format accepted by a broad range of investors and to achieve speed of execution.”

ANZ’s Damian Kwok, Head of Trade Portfolio Management and Head of Trade and Supply Chain, Australia, New Zealand, Pacific, observed: “Trade Finance is the lifeblood that is needed to support businesses and enable them to thrive in our communities. Therefore, it is imperative that the financing community continues to work together to support the growing requirements.”

Anthony van Vliet, Global Head of Trade & Commodity Finance at ING, said: “In Trade & Commodity Finance, it’s all about connecting global supply chains in food, energy and industrial activities. By bundling the expertise of global banks, the TFD Initiative bridges the gap between the US dollardominated commodity trade finance sector, and institutional investors who are not traditionally engaged in this part of the real economy.”

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation’s Kazuo Yoshimura, General Manager, Global Head of Supply Chain Finance, Global Trade Finance Department added; “Trade growth is vital for continued economic growth and global development. Bringing alternative investors into trade finance will provide additional funding to corporates globally. It is, therefore, that SMBC welcomes the Trade Finance Distribution Initiative as a playing a crucial role in establishing trade finance as an asset class.”

Naeem Khan, Global Head of Trade Finance at Crédit Agricole CIB said: “We anticipate growing needs in terms of automation of the trade finance distribution market which will enhance investors’ reach and bring distribution efficiency. This is a key step in the right direction to facilitate global trade finance market growth.”

Shaahien Mottiar, Head of Trade: Southern & Central Africa and Head of Trade Asset Management at Standard Bank, said: “The application of technology is now enabling the involvement of non-traditional trade participants and investors. The TFD Initiative is a catalyst in driving the growing modernisation of trade and trade finance, and in developing an asset class directly connected to real economy transactions. For developing markets this means bridging the gap between perceived and real risks, and in-turn, creating opportunities for renewed sustainable growth and development.”

Shaahien Mottiar, Head of Trade: Southern & Central Africa and Head of Trade Asset Management at Standard Bank, said: “The application of technology is now enabling the involvement of non-traditional trade participants and investors. The TFD Initiative is a catalyst in driving the growing modernisation of trade and trade finance, and in developing an asset class directly connected to real economy transactions. For developing markets this means bridging the gap between perceived and real risks, and in-turn, creating opportunities for renewed sustainable growth and development.”

“I believe the TFD Initiative offers the opportunity to create a global network for trade originators and liquidity providers to connect, interact and transact efficiently, thereby establishing trade finance as an easily accessible and attractive asset class for non-bank institutional investors,” concluded André Casterman, Board Member at Tradeteq.

To learn more about TFD Initiative and to read the white paper or enquire about membership, please go to www.tradefinancedistribution.com.