UBS and IBM have partnered with Commerzbank, Bank of Montreal (BMO), CaixaBank, and Erste Group on a blockchain-based trade finance platform started in 2016.
This platform, called Batavia, is built to be openly accessed by organisations of all sizes anywhere in the world, and can support trade finance for transactions across all modes of trade, whether goods are being transported by air, land or sea.
Batavia advances the work initiated by UBS and IBM to develop a trade finance platform built on the IBM Blockchain Platform powered by the Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain framework. The development work is being done collaboratively by the five banks and IBM in consultation with transportation industry experts as well as the banks' customers to ensure that the platform is flexible and intuitive for customers and can be commercialised, according to a statement.
Batavia is targeting pilot transactions with customers on the network in early 2018 to test and refine the platform. Designed to support more efficient, transparent and cost-effective transactions, the new global trade financing platform will help organisations more easily build multi-party, cross-border trading networks worldwide.
Batavia will allow transacting parties to view the progress of a shipment as it leaves the warehouse, is loaded onto a plane, truck or boat and arrives at the receiving port, automatically releasing payments incrementally along each step of the process.
Traditionally, trading partners, including buyers, sellers, their banks, transporters, inspectors and regulators have relied on large volumes of paper based documentation to securely conduct trade transactions. This process can take up to weeks, incurring costs, making data vulnerable to errors due to repeated manual reprocessing and tying up capital. Delays and lack of transparency in trade can make it difficult for companies to access financing, limiting their ability to trade across borders and grow revenues.
The Batavia platform will eliminate the necessity to handle and compare documents, allowing buyers, sellers and their banks to execute transactions with a high degree of efficiency and transparency. The status of a contract until its fulfilment is updated automatically through IoT sensor data or user input.
Fabio Keller, IBM project lead, said: "In working with hundreds of clients to implement blockchain solutions, financing global trade has emerged as one of the use cases most in need of innovating. Targeting the creation of large, global, multi-modal networks that bring transparency and trust to each step of the trade process is what makes Batavia a platform with so much potential to transform the way companies around the world do business with one another."
Beat Bannwart, Head Strategic Innovation & Market Development, Corporate & Institutional Clients at UBS, said:"Today, the process of securing and financing trade is highly cumbersome for corporates. Through working closely with our clients, we aim to innovate their user experience through a simple, digital and automated way of arranging, securing and financing their international trade transactions by leveraging new technology and creating an open ecosystem."