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Commonwealth Bank completes blockchain trade finance trial


Today Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) announced the completion of a blockchain trial. The test involved tracking seventeen tonnes of almonds from Victoria in Australia to Hamburg.

The focus wasn’t purely on trade finance. Partners could track the shipment including the temperature and humidity inside the container provided by IoT devices. That said, the level of detail is useful for providing insurance.

The test involved digitizing the operations, documentation, and finance. The system used a blockchain to track container information, task completion, and shipping documentation. Those documents included bills of lading, certificates of origin and other customs documents.

Chris Scougall from CBA commented “Our blockchain-enabled global trade platform experiment brought to life the idea of a modern global supply chain that is agile, efficient and transparent. We believe that blockchain can help our partners reduce the burden of administration on their businesses and enable them to deliver best-in-class services to their customers.”

The product originated at Olam Orchards. Emma Roberts Supply Chain Manager at the company said: “Trade inefficiency can be extremely detrimental to our business. It is vital that as an industry, we look at emerging technology for ways to enhance the supply chain to develop a more transparent and efficient platform. This project has shown that through collaboration from all parts of the supply chain that this can be achieved.”

This wasn’t CBA’s first blockchain foray. Back in 2016, they completed a trade finance trial with Wells Fargo mirroring a Letter of Credit transaction. Today’s statement said: “This latest project built upon that work, examining how CBA could help its partners optimise working capital and asset utilisation, explore trade finance concepts and potential for in-app payment and invoicing.”

The bank used a private blockchain network using the Ethereum protocol. The bank noted that for a live commercial system there would be more restrictive access rights to protect sensitive business information.

Several logistics organizations took part in the trial including the Port of Melbourne and container company OOCL. The Port of Brisbane is also involved in a blockchain trial.

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