Contour, a blockchain-based trade finance platform, has gone live after a successful beta testing phase. The trade finance platform aims to optimize the traditional financial system by digitizing them and putting them on a blockchain. The trade finance platform is backed by 8 major banks, including HSBC, Citi, ING, Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, CTBC, Standard Chartered, and SEB.
The platform was launched back in 2017 as Voltron built on top of the R3s Corda Platform. The platform promise to ease up the slow bureaucratic process for several institutions and companies via a global blockchain network. HSBC tweeted about the official launch of the platform and said,
“We’re excited to announce the world’s first global, decentralized, digital trade finance platform using #Blockchain technology has gone live this week to coincide with #Sibos2020:”
However, it is also important to note that the network is a private blockchain that would be exclusively available for partner companies for data sharing. Thus, even though HSBC's tweet calls the platform a decentralized network, it is not centralized in the traditional sense.
How Would Contour Optimize Traditional Trade Finance?
After its launch, the first goal for Contour would be to optimize the letter of credit (LC) process among parties, which, on average, takes 10 days to process currently. With Contour's blockchain system, the time consumed for processing would be reduced by 1/10th, taking around 24 hours.
Contour would develop a rulebook and membership agreement system, which would allow for the reduction of processing time by 90%.
Carl Wegner, the CEO of the platform, explained how the rulebook would help in optimizing the process and said,
“The rulebook is really important. Rather than having to string together four or five different legal agreements between the buyer, seller, buyer’s banks, and seller’s banks, which was very onerous, we now have a rulebook which makes it very easy for everybody to sign up and know what their roles and responsibilities are.”
With the official launch of the platform, all the existing members would migrate to the main net. However, it is unclear how many other members are on the platform apart from the official partners.