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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Ventures will help Contour continue to grow as it develops the open network to create seamless trade and digitize the outdated process.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.

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.