Blockchain for Trade Finance

Blockchain for Trade Finance | ICC, TFG and WTO Guide

Trade Finance Global / Blockchain for Trade Finance

Blockchain for Trade Finance

Welcome to our blockchain hub, a comprehensive guide by Trade Finance Global on the use of distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and blockchain within international trade, trade finance, and shipping.

Consortia, networks, and technologies have emerged in attempts to digitise trade, yet to date, their applications have been relatively unsuccessful and disjointed.

We investigate some of the key opportunities and challenges the in the current ecosystem, and take an in-depth look at what needs to happen for the industry to evolve.

Just as TCP/IP, HTML, and HTTP provide shared and open standards and protocols that enabled the internet to become what it is today, so too can blockchain and related technologies create a flatter, smarter, more connected, and overall better world for global trade and commerce.

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Following the launch of TFG / WTO / ICC’s publication “Blockchain & DLT in trade: A reality check” in November 2019 at the WTO Global Blockchain Forum, this updated research study provides an overview and updated periodic table.

The study outlines the main projects, categories into Supply Chain Finance, Trade Finance, Know Your Customer (KYC), Insurance, DLT Digitiisayion of Trade Documents, Shipping & Logistics / Supply Chain, Other Initiatives and Marketplaces. The authors also mapped out 19 standardization initiatives, split by sector or process, general trade, private sector-led and regional / national initiatives, as well as the international standards bodies.

Video – WTO & TFG Launches ‘Blockchain & DLT for Trade: Where do we stand?’

Research – Blockchain for Trade Finance

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Videos – Blockchain & DLT for Trade

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Featured Insights

From AI to the metaverse – the future of the global supply chain and tools for resilience From AI to the metaverse–the future of the global supply chain and tools for resilience Artificial intelligence. The metaverse. What do these tools have in common for supply chains? These are the technological building blocks for the future of the global supply chain – a fully digitised, connected, self-orchestrated ecosystem where even consumers hold decision-making power.
Is the time ripe for the formation of a global receivable exchange Is the time ripe for the formation of a global receivable exchange? In 2019, FCI formed a working group called “Receivables as an Investable Asset Class” (RIAC). It was comprised of FCI members and companies who operate as funds supporting the
The continued evolution of cross-border payments The continued evolution of cross-border payments Cross-border payments are at the core of international finance and economic activity and it have undergone dramatic changes over the past fifty years. 

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Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies & DLT – Frequently Asked Questions

What is Blockchain?

A blockchain is essentially a decentralised, distributed ledger that permanently records transactions. ‘Decentralised’ means that no single individual or group has excess control over the exchanges. ‘Distributed’ means that the ledger is sent out to many computers. In other words, it’s made public and thus is completely transparent. Whilst everyone can view the blockchain, nobody can amend it.

The term ‘blockchain’ is derived from the way the technology works. Each ‘block’ contains encoded data of groups of valid transactions. These transactions are linked to previous blocks to form a ‘chain’, hence we get the name ‘blockchain’.

It’s not necessary to understand the complexities of how the technology works to understand what it does. Blockchain technology provides a way to transact directly via a peer-to-peer network securely. This means that you can use the blockchain to transact without any middlemen.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is essentially a decentralised, distributed ledger that permanently records transactions. ‘Decentralised’ means that no single individual or group has excess control over the exchanges. ‘Distributed’ means that the ledger is sent out to many computers. In other words, it’s made public and thus is completely transparent. Whilst everyone can view the blockchain, nobody can amend it.

The term ‘blockchain’ is derived from the way the technology works. Each ‘block’ contains encoded data of groups of valid transactions. These transactions are linked to previous blocks to form a ‘chain’, hence we get the name ‘blockchain’.

It’s not necessary to understand the complexities of how the technology works to understand what it does. Blockchain technology provides a way to transact directly via a peer-to-peer network securely. This means that you can use the blockchain to transact without any middlemen.

How does blockchain work?

Transactions are recorded to a blockchain through 5 important steps:

Step 1: Two parties initiate a transaction by agreeing to exchange something of value. In most cases, this will be a cryptocurrency token or other asset.

Step 2: This pending transaction joins others and creates a ‘block’ which is then sent out to ‘miners’. Miners are computers on the blockchain network that evaluate transactions to earn a reward. This reward is usually new cryptocurrency tokens or a part of the transaction fee. They validate the transaction by solving complex mathematical problems using computer power.

Step 3: If miners reach consensus to validate the transaction, it’s verified and added to the blockchain.

Step 4: A timestamp is added to this transaction block using a cryptographic receipt. As each block has a reference to the hash of the previous block, there is an unalterable chain of records.

Step 5: The transaction is complete and the unit of value is transferred to the receiving party.

Infographic: How does Blockchain work?

Source: By Shivratan rajvi [CC BY-SA 4.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

What is blockchain used for?

Blockchain technology was originally designed as the foundation upon which cryptocurrencies could be built. Since then, and it’s use cases have expanded hugely as the technology has evolved. The invention of Ethereum’s Smart Contracts made it easier for developers to build applications for many different industries, including:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Travel
  • Banking
  • Trade finance
  • Cloud storage
  • Legal
  • Insurance
  • Healthcare

The reason that blockchain has so many use cases is that it provides a reliable, secure and transparent network. This makes it useful for any business that could benefit from a way to transfer data securely, quickly and transparently.

Are cryptocurrencies and blockchain the same thing?

Contrary to popular belief, blockchain and cryptocurrencies aren’t one in the same. Many people think that this is the case as the two terms come up in the same sentence quite often – they’re closely linked.

Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies – they’re units of value that take the form of tokens. The blockchain is the digital ledger that stores a record of all cryptocurrency transactions. Blockchain is also used in other applications outside of cryptocurrencies.

What are cryptocurrencies used for?

There are several use cases for cryptocurrencies, including:

Cross-border payments:

Sending fiat currencies internationally often comes with excessive fees for international transfers. It’s also a lengthy and time-consuming process to complete through regular banks. Cryptocurrencies allow you to send money across international borders directly. The exchange is completed almost instantly and with minimal fees.

Anonymous transactions:

Cryptocurrencies offer higher levels of anonymity than fiat currencies. This makes them ideal as a medium of exchange for transactions where a high level of anonymity is preferred.

As an investment vehicle:

The cryptocurrency market is hugely volatile, but it has seen massive growth over the last decade. It’s an accessible market for beginner investors who are willing to invest in high-risk, high-reward assets.

What are the most common cryptocurrencies?

Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency. As it was the inaugural cryptocurrency, it benefited from a first-mover advantage which has allowed it to remain the leading cryptocurrency by market capitalisation.

According to CoinMarketCap, the top 5 cryptocurrencies by market capitalisation as of July 2018 are:

  1. Bitcoin
  2. Ethereum
  3. XRP
  4. Bitcoin Cash
  5. EOS

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Contents

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About the Author

Deepesh Patel is Editorial Director at Trade Finance Global (TFG). In this role, Deepesh leads efforts in developing TFG’s brand, relationships and strategic direction in key markets, including the UK, US, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong.

Deepesh regularly chairs and speaks at international industry events with the WTO, BCR, Excred, TXF, The Economist and Reuters, as well as industry associations including ICC, FCI, ITFA and BAFT.

Deepesh is the host of the ‘Trade Finance Talks’ podcast and ‘Trade Finance Talks TV’. He is co-author of ‘Blockchain for Trade: A Reality Check’ with the ICC and the WTO, alongside other industry research.

In addition to his work at TFG, Deepesh is a Strategic Advisor for WOA, and works closely with ITFA. He also sits on the Fintech Working Group of the Standardised Trust.

Prior to TFG, Deepesh worked at Travelex where he was responsible for the cards business and the Travelex Money app in Europe, NAM, UK and Brazil. Deepesh is Chair of Governors and co-opted LA Governor of the Wyvern Federation, which has responsibility for 5 primary schools in South London.

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