UBS is the next bank to join the we.trade ecosystem. After several leading international banks are already making use of the platform’s trade finance instruments, UBS is the first Swiss bank to sign up for a partnership.
Swiss banking group UBS is now live on we.trade. The bank started offering services via we.trade’s blockchain-based trade finance platform to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in October.
UBS follows other banks such as Erste Group of Austria and CaixaBank from Spain, who also started using the platform this month. Société Générale, HSBC, Santander, UniCredit, Nordea, KBC Bank, Rabobank, and Deutsche Bank already use we.trade to settle trade contracts.
In 2020, Eurobank of Greece and the three largest banks of the Czech Republic — CSOB, Komercni, and Česká Spořitelna are going to go live on we.trade as well.
We.trade offers blockchain-based trade finance tools to banks and SMEs
we.trade offers trade finance tools for SMEs, for example bank payment guarantees and invoice financing. A blockchain is used to increase trust between the trade participants and to automate processes, resulting in lower costs. To use the platform, users can choose from a wide range of membership packages, priced between $2,000 a month to a full annual license at $175,000.
The platform launched in 2018 and is growing rapidly. It currently tries to onboard new banks, which are encouraging their corporate clients to use the platform. Ciaran McGowan, general manager at we.trade, says, “The accelerated collaboration between these corporates and banks is amazing.”
Marie-Laure Gastellu, Deputy Head of Trade Finance at Société Générale seems convinced of we.trade’s offering. “we.trade needs more SMEs using the platform,” she said. “The SMEs we are dealing with are telling us how happy they are to have such an offer and they are also asking us as much as possible to try to convince other banks to join.”
The platform also helps banks to expand their customer base. “We.trade is also a great tool to get new relationships for banks,” said Gastellu.
On the tech side, the platform is built by IBM on the open-source Hyperledger Fabric blockchain. But in the long-term, the company wants to develop their tech in-house. “We are a technology company and we want to build our own capability,” said McGowan “We have a very good working relationship with IBM and they understand that we can’t continually pay for an outsourced team.”
Trade finance is a major blockchain use case
Trade finance is a prime use case for blockchain technology. The current paper-based system is vastly inefficient, making international trade deals unnecessarily expensive and bureaucratic. Blockchain technology can solve these issues by creating a trusted system for both buyers and sellers.
On we.trade, all transaction partners get verified by their banks so they know they can trust each other. The platform then enables its users to request bank payment undertaking and financing. That means the payment is guaranteed to the seller and the buyer can maintain their working capital. After the order gets delivered, payment will get automatically executed via a smart contract.
The system is particularly helpful in countries that lack modern financing tools and infrastructure. Gowan explains, “A fascinating element is that in Greece the post-dated check is still very prevalent, so they see the platform as a way to replace that, which is another use story we hadn’t foreseen.”