CargoSmart, a shipment management technology solution provider, today announced the successful completion of a proof-of-concept with eTradeConnect, a multi-bank blockchain consortium in Hong Kong facilitated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA). The engagement explored ways to improve global trade through enhanced collaboration among shippers, banks, terminal operators, and ocean carriers, with applications to be further developed once the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) is formed. CargoSmart and eTradeConnect have successfully completed the proof-of-concept facilitated by PwC, with banks and ocean carriers including Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited, The Bank of East Asia Limited, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, COSCO Shipping Lines, and OOCL respectively. The proof-of-concept was designed to validate the hypothesis that linking supply chain data with trade finance transactions can provide enhanced transparency, traceability, and efficiency for member banks and their trade finance customers.

Under current practices, in order to apply for financing services, companies are required to provide banks with shipping documents for validation, which takes significant time. The proof-of-concept connects two blockchain networks to exchange information under a strong data governance model. With the consent of its customers, banks in the eTradeConnect network would be allowed to access relevant historical records provided by ocean carriers and terminals. Banks would be able to shorten the customer validation process, with a better understanding of customers’ backgrounds and with real-time, credible shipment event data. The proposed solution intends to accelerate the document validation and trade finance process.

In addition, eTradeConnect member banks will be able to leverage trusted data to streamline their trade finance approval operations, improve their risk management, and enhance their abilities to extend credit to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It will become easier for borrowers to meet their funding needs and to seize more business opportunities.

Mr. Andy Tung, Co-Chief Executive Officer of OOCL, said “Finding ways to improve the level of efficiency in how the shipping industry exchanges information and documents have always been a monumental challenge.  The success in this proof-of-concept is a very positive direction forward to not only tackle this challenge head on, but to take it a step further by broadening the scope of stakeholders such as financial institutions to be a part of this open and transparent digital ecosystem.  We certainly look forward to seeing more of these kinds of forward thinking technologies and collaborations being implemented for the collective good of all stakeholders.”

Digital transformation has swept across many industries in recent years, often in digital silos and mostly without cross-industry outreach. “The exchange of trusted and immutable data enabled by blockchain gives rise to a seamless and secured linkage across the global trade and financial sectors. The convergence of both worlds will unleash enormous opportunities for global trade and give impetus to international economic growth,” said Mr. Lionel Louie, chief commercial officer of CargoSmart. “The proof-of-concept with eTradeConnect has demonstrated the power of trusted networks. CargoSmart will continue to bridge the shipping industry with other sectors for supply chain excellence to create value for all stakeholders.”

Mr. Eric Ip, Group Managing Director, Hutchison Ports, said, “The successful completion of a proof-of-concept with eTradeConnect marks a positive beginning of a collaboration between carriers, terminals and banks to explore new products and value propositions for trade finance. We are excited about the potential benefits this can bring to the supply chain. Once GSBN is established, we are confident future members will benefit from its strong data governance and trusted transactions will help simplify trade for end customers.”

The proposed connection between the GSBN, once formed, and eTradeConnect, facilitated by HKMA, is an important step towards unlocking the value of the digitalization of trade finance. It is hoped that the proposed connection will pave the way with forward thinking financial regulators in Asia with a similar approach towards Fintech.

Ms. Teng Linhui, General Manager of Transaction Banking Department of Bank of China (Hong Kong) said, “BOCHK has always been committed to enhancing its financial service capabilities by using innovative technologies, and promoting its cooperation with business partners to digitalise the trade ecosystem. We are pleased to cooperate with CargoSmart and banking peers to foster the development of trade finance infrastructure in Hong Kong. Seamless logistics is a key element of the trade process. We believe that linking eTradeConnect with shipping network not only helps verify trade transactions and reduce financing risk, but also improves customer satisfaction by streamlining the process. Going forward, we will continue to participate in optimisation projects of eTradeConnect, and provide high quality, convenient and efficient services for our customers.”

Ms. Jeanny Ip, Head of Global Trade and Receivables Finance, Hong Kong and Macau, HSBC, said “HSBC is committed to transforming and digitising trade to make it faster, safer and more efficient. As one of the co-funding banks supporting the eTradeConnect platform, we are delighted to participate in the proof-of-concept which will help build a global trade ecosystem and further simplify trading process for our clients. Based on the feedback we obtained from previous eTradeConnect pilot transactions, HSBC sees the need and demand for a single platform where clients can facilitate cross-border trade. Clients are telling us that they want a more comprehensive customer journey, one that removes duplication. This is a win-win for all participants of international trade.”

“As a leading global trade bank, Standard Chartered is highly dedicated to the digitisation of trade, in order to enhance the client experience as well as the efficiency and transparency of global trade. With the success of the proof-of-concept that represents a truly digitalised process, banks and clients are no longer restricted by physical or electronic documents, rather shipment data are treated as individual data points that can be exchanged within client’s ecosystem, reimagining client experience while improving banks’ operation and credit processes,” said Mr. Biswajyoti Upadhyay, Head of Transaction Banking, Hong Kong, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited.

Mr. James Chang, PwC China Consulting Leader, said, “The digital economy is blooming and the trade ecosystem is an essential part of the transformation. We are excited to be part of this cross-industry collaboration, which is an example that demonstrates our commitment to innovation, technology and creating value by facilitating industry collaboration.”