The Bank of Montreal (BMO), CaixaBank, Commerzbank and Erste Group have joined an initiative launched by UBS and IBM in 2016 to build a new global trade platform based on blockchain technology. This new 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 commercialized. 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 organizations 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.
The platform will help connect participants in a trading network, delivering the potential to transform global trade. The open nature of the platform, which encourages broad participation by many banks, vendors and regulators, will also help open new trade corridors, bring new players into the market and expedite processes that before were prohibitively time-consuming and expensive.
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.
Blockchain enables greater transparency by digitising agreements entered into a permanent, immutable ledger that all involved parties in a trade transaction can view. The status of a contract until its fulfilment is updated automatically through IoT sensor data or user input. Batavia will save users time and reduce costs by ensuring the integrity of data as it changes hands, reducing third-party verification processes and minimising the potential for errors, tampering or disputes. When all participants in a transaction can access a shared version of the truth, they can interact with greater trust, building larger and more distributed networks, and in turn, growing revenue.