Building on the WTO publication “Can Blockchain Revolutionize International Trade?” authored by Emmanuelle Ganne and TFG’s white paper “Blockchain and Trade Finance”, this study provides an overview of the main projects underway in trade, with a focus on trade finance, shipping, and the digitalization of trade documents, and assesses their stages of maturity. Based on a survey of more than 200 actors in the field, it analyses the key challenges that companies involved in blockchain projects are facing and discusses actions that may need to be taken to allow the technology to truly transform international trade. After years of hype around blockchain, the time has come for a reality check.
We’re living through exciting times. While international trade in goods has seen little innovation since the invention of the container in the 50s, the tedious, labour- and paper-intensive processes required to ship around the world could well become a story of the past thanks to the advent of new technologies, particularly distributed ledger technology (DLT) – colloquially termed “blockchain”.
Rarely has a technology spurred so much hype and hope amongst the trade and trade finance community. Not without reason: The possibilities that blockchain unlocks to track transactions and exchange assets in real-time, in a trusted and highly secure environment using peer-to-peer validation and networks makes it an appealing tool to remove many of the inefficiencies that hinder one of the oldest forms of traditional finance today.
Over the past few years a myriad of projects have been launched to enhance processes related to trade finance, to digitalize trade documentation, and to reduce inefficiencies in transportation and logistics. Some take the form of multi-player consortia and networks, others are building a fabric layer to interconnect these different projects, and others are built to digitize particular aspects of the trade and supply chain.
These international trade actors are changing fast, but how many of these initiatives have moved beyond a proof-of-concept? What are the challenges that these new actors now face as we go past the trough of disillusionment and exploratory phase of DLT in trade?
Industry Association Partners
Assistant Editor and Lead Researcher
Carter Hoffman, Trade Finance Global
Cécile André Leruste, Accenture
Special Thanks To
David Bischof, ICC Banking Commission
Olivier Paul, ICC Banking Commission
Alisa Di Caprio, R3
Jerry Defeo, Trade Finance Global
Fabiana Fong, World Trade Organization
Persiana Ignatova, Trade Finance Global
Hans J. Huber, ICC DSI
Pierre Sien, Euler Hermes (Clipeum Participant) Mohua Banerjee, Finacle Blockchain solutions Souleïma Baddi, KomGo SA David Bischof, ICC DSI Atul Khekade, TradeFinex Tech Ltd. Ken Marke, B3i Daniel Wilson, Maersk GTD Lionel Louie, CargoSmart Limited Horace Mak, eCOM Asia Jacco de Jong, Bolero International Gunnar Collin, EnigioTime Whitman Knapp, GTBInsights LLC
Hans J. Huber, ICC DSI Adi Weinstein, Wave David McLoughlin, we.trade Shona Tatchell, Halotrade Dani Cotti, TradeIX Mariana Gomez, ING Marta Piekarska-Geater, Hyperledger Emily Fisher, Hyperledger Vivek Gupta, ANZ Alisa Di Caprio, R3 Paul Smith, HSBC
Trade Finance Global (TFG) assists companies with raising debt finance. While we can access many traditional forms of finance, we specialise in alternative finance and complex funding solutions related to international trade. We help companies to raise finance in ways that is sometimes out of reach for mainstream lenders.