Banking News

Citi, HSBC, ING back blockchain trade finance network Contour’s Series A+

trade container cargo ship

Today the blockchain trade finance network Contour announced it has closed its Series A+ funding without disclosing the amount.

After starting as the Voltron Letter of Credit consortium, the company was incorporated in Singapore in January 2020, backed by seven global banks – Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, CTBC, HSBC, ING, SEB, and Standard Chartered. Enterprise blockchain firm R3, Bain & Company and developer CryptoBLK were also involved from the start. All participated in the Series A+ funding with the addition of Citi and SMBC.

Apart from the nine shareholder banks, a further ten banks have joined the network and a total of 13 are live on the platform, following the transition to a production network in October 2020.

Fairly early on, the consortium said that digitizing the Letter of Credit process was the first step. Now the company has confirmed that it has an in-house team exploring other trade finance offerings and expects to double its team size over the coming year.

“BNP Paribas endorses and promotes solutions for a simplified, automated and digital treatment of LC’s, and of trade in general,” said Jean-François Denis, Global Head, Trade Solutions at BNP Paribas. “A wide market acceptance of a platform like Contour should ultimately benefit all players in the trade ecosystem by taking away the pain points the market has struggled with for a long time.” 

The company said that it has processed Letter of Credit (LC) transactions for various sectors, including metals, energy, petrochemicals, textiles, soft commodities, and retail.

Commodities account for a large proportion of LCs, whether digital or not. Another blockchain platform, komgo, is targeting LCs for the energy sector with plans to expand into other commodities. It announced it raised $29 million in its third round of funding earlier this month.