Last week HSBC processed a pilot Letter of Credit on the Voltron blockchain trade finance platform that demonstrated interoperability with a second blockchain. The transaction involved a shipment from Bee Dee Industries in Hong Kong to Babyshop, one of the Landmark Group’s retail outlets in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Landmark has its own permissioned distributed ledger ReChainME.
Voltron‘s trade finance blockchain tapped into ReChainME to track the logistics side of a Letter of Credit issued by HSBC. Interoperability is a hot issue in enterprise blockchain, particularly in trade finance where banks need to know when goods are delivered.
Interoperability is more than just a technical issue. It also involves standards and governance for transferring data between ledgers. In this particular case, both Voltron and ReChainMe use R3’s Corda technology, which is designed to interoperate with other Corda network ledgers. There has been progress on interoperability between different blockchain technologies, but there’s still a ways to go.
Regarding standards and governance, another Corda trade finance initiative, Marco Polo, initiated the Universal Trade Network (UTN). It aims to pull together many of the blockchain consortia across trade finance, supply chain and logistics as well as the standards bodies.
“The challenge lies in connecting these digital islands to create a cohesive network, and this is where blockchain comes in,” said Sunil Veetil, Regional Head of Trade at HSBC Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. “Being able to connect two complementary blockchain platforms is a significant milestone in the development of this technology. It also speaks to the dynamism and interoperability of Voltron.”
Landmark Group is a major retail organization with more than 2,300 outlets, particularly in the Middle East and India. It owns several brands including Spar, and also operates stores, hospitality and restaurants under license from international brands. These include Krispy Kreme, Kurt Geiger shoes, Nando’s and Steve Madden.