Barclays Africa Lender completes world's first blockchain trade finance transaction

The trade, which took place between Ireland and Seychelles, was based on a new technology platform developed by Wave.

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A Barclays logo is pictured outside the Barclays towers in Johannesburg December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko play A Barclays logo is pictured outside the Barclays towers in Johannesburg December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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Barclays Africa, in cohorts with its UK-based parent company, Barclays Plc. have completed the world's firsr trade finance transaction using just blockchain technology.

The trade, which took place between Ireland and Seychelles, was based on a new technology platform developed by Wave, a startup that went through the Barclays Accelerator programme, which is powered by Techstars, in New York in 2015.

The trade involved a letter of credit transaction between the Seychelles Trading Company Ltd and Ornua (formerly known as the Irish Diary Board), both of whom are clients of Barclays Africa and Barclays UK. The lender then used the Wave technology platform to transfer the electronic Bill of Lading while the funds being sent via Swift.

The Wave platform let's all stakeholders on the supply chain send, receive and track an electronic Bill of Lading, in addition to uploading and sending relevant information.

The platform is linked to a distributed ledger which records and verifies the ownership and authenticity of the uploaded documents.

A Barclays bank office is seen at Canary Wharf in London, Britain May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo play A Barclays bank office is seen at Canary Wharf in London, Britain May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett/File Photo

 

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According to the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, "7% of the global value of trade is absorbed by the cost of documents alone." This means that companies around the world, through this new blockchain technology, can save significant costs and time. The shipping industry and financial institutions are expected to be some of the largest beneficiaries of the technology.

"We have been taking a leading role in helping to develop products and investigate technologies that will bring efficiencies and cost savings to Africa. This includes blockchain, which has the ptential to fundamentally change the way certain businesses operate," says James Scott, Head of Digital at Corporate and Investment Banking for Barclays Africa.

"Barclays Africa was the first African bank to join the R3 blockchain consortium, which includes some of the world's biggest financial institutions investigating the uses of blockchain technology. We nominated our Seychelles client for this first pilot and could involve other African trade finance clients, and other banks with clients in Africa, in future tests."

This technology could mean a new era of simpler, faster and safer trade finance. Even though companies around the world are looking for ways to improve trade finance transactions using the speed and security available through blockchain technology, this is only the first time the it has actually been used in a live trade.

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