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Sumitomo invests in Japanese blockchain network TradeWaltz


TradeWaltz, the Japanese logistics blockchain, announced a new funding round with major conglomerate Sumitomo Corporation joining as an investor. The addition of Sumitomo means that four of the six largest Japanese trading groups (Sogo shosha) – including Mitsubishi, Marubeni and Toyota Tsusho – are now amongst the backers of TradeWaltz.

The latest fundraising was for yen 1.65 billion ($12 million), bringing the cumulative investment to Yen 5.65 billion ($40 million).

Before TradeWaltz was incorporated in late 2020, all seven of the top Japanese trading groups were consortium members. With the addition of Marubeni in February and now Sumitomo, TradeWaltz is gradually reeling them in.

TradeWaltz says it has 50 paying customers for its solution with a much larger network. It claims to improve logistics operational efficiencies by more than 44%. So far it has integrated with major trade platforms in other jurisdictions, including Thailand, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

TradeWaltz’s technology provider and initiator was NTT Data, and it uses the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain. Blockchain logistics networks have struggled with funding in the last year, with the shuttering of IBM and Maersk’s TradeLens, and bank-backed trade finance platform and Marco Polo. However, a recent drive to digitize container bills of lading should drive digitization in the sector.

“We would like to use our knowledge and know-how of trade practices related to various products and our global network to make the trade information collaboration platform TradeWaltz more widely used by more businesses,” said Sumitomo Corp’s Takashi Yanai. The move is part of Sumitomo digital transformation initiative SHIFT 2023.

There has certainly been an increase in blockchain activity from Sumitomo Corporation this year. Last month Vodafone announced a joint venture with Sumitomo for its Digital Asset Broker blockchain network. One of the targets is to embed IoT and Economy of Things sensors into cars.

In March, Sumitomo Corp collaborated with blockchain-powered recycling startup SMX to distribute the SMX solution, including the exclusive worldwide distribution rights for non-ferrous metals. Again, Sumitomo is targeting recycling in the automotive sector.

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