Banking News

HSBC blockchain lead joins Contour trade finance network

trade container cargo ship

Today, the Singapore-based Contour trade finance network announced it appointed Joshua Kroeker, as its Chief Product Officer. Kroeker was HSBC’s former global lead for blockchain for commercial banking. Contour, previously known as Voltron or Letter of Credit blockchain, was incorporated earlier this year and was founded by HSBC, ING and Standard Chartered, among others. 

While at HSBC, Kroeker and his team were also involved in blockchain trade finance platforms we.trade and Hong Kong’s eTradeConnect. Kroeker was a Director at HSBC in Hong Kong and has now moved to Singapore, where Contour is based. 

Back in 2018, the blockchain letter of credit project went through a bit of a lull. Kroeker was involved in HSBC taking the lead to move the initiative forward. For a while, the bank paid the bills for the ongoing development by blockchain firm CryptoBLK to get the platform to a stage where its advantages could be demonstrated to other banks.

Kroeker commented that Contour is “solving a real problem with its launch product, a digitized letter of credit tool. Hearing the positive feedback on Contour first-hand from banks, corporates and industry partners for the past two years makes me extremely proud to be joining this organization and being entrusted to help deliver on its promise.”

It might have been an opportune time to leave the bank. Back in February, HSBC announced plans to reduce its 235,000 workforce by 35,000 in the U.S. and Europe. But those plans were put on hold following the COVID-19 crisis. Last week, the Financial Times reported the bank was planning even more drastic measures, with the intention of redirecting resources to its roots in Asia where it’s also more profitable. 

Meanwhile, Contour is building a platform for digitizing trade processes, especially letter of credit (LC) transactions, which require a lot of paperwork. It previously said leveraging blockchain had reduced the processing time of LCs by about seven days. 

R3’s Corda enterprise blockchain underpins the platform, and Hong Kong’s CryptoBLK is the technology partner. Last week, Contour announced it partnered with IntellectEU to help banks and corporates with integration into its platform which is currently in the beta testing phase.

The network was founded by seven banks — Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, CTBC Holding, HSBC, ING, SEB, and Standard Chartered. CitiHD Bank and DBS joined later on. 

Contour has seen numerous trade finance pilots from HSBC and other members.