We’ve previously written about NTT Data‘s blockchain trade solution, TradeWaltz, which it started to work on in 2017. Today it announced that itself and six other firms have invested in the company. The firm now has capital and reserves to the tune of Yen 2.1 billion ($20 million), implying a financing figure above that.
The investors include three sogo shosha or trade companies, Mitsubishi Corp, Toyota Tsusho and Kanematsu. Plus there’s MUFG bank and insurers Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire and Sompo. However, there were 18 firms involved before incorporation.
The digital trade platform is a cross-industry solution that aims to digitize trade documents by creating structured documents, not just by storing pdfs. The plan is to use that data for greater automation and to create new opportunities.
TradeWaltz is estimated to reduce administration time spent by staff by as much as 50%. Previous trials demonstrated a time reduction of 44% where a Letter of Credit was involved and 46% for open account trade finance.
Initially, the solution is focused on Japanese trade with ASEAN countries. It wants to ensure each country has an independent business operation for the purposes of data sovereignty. The aim is to encourage apps to be built on top of the platform, which NTT Data described as a franchise-like model.
The ultimate goal is regional digital trade connectivity (RDTC), where NTT Data is collaborating with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Japan is currently the ASEAN leader and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council is considering the initiative. NTT Data previously did some trials in Thailand.
Additionally, TradeWaltz intends to enable interoperability with other platforms and signed a declaration about this together with Singapore’s IMDA and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
Prior to incorporation in April, there were 18 firms involved in TradeWaltz, including most of Japan’s big sogo shosha, four container shipping and logistics firms, and more banks and insurers. The lack of interest from shippers is not a reflection on the project given the major impact of COVID-19.
What’s notable is that with the possible exception of Kanematsu, all the other investors have blockchain experience through other initiatives. One example is Tokio Marine & Nichido, where the holding company is an investor in the B3i insurance platform.
Tokio Marine & Nichido VP Makoto Okada commented: “It is the world’s first initiative to digitize freight insurance policies that are sold and transferred between traders by blockchain, and together with all the participants in Trade Waltz, we will introduce new practices in trade practices to the world from Japan. “