A consortium of seven European banks is partnering with IBM to build and host a new trade finance platform based on IBM Blockchain powered by Hyperledger Fabric. The platform is designed to simplify and facilitate domestic and cross-border trade for SMEs, as well as increasing transaction transparency.

The Digital Trade Chain Consortium comprises Deutsche Bank, HSBC, KBC, Natixis, Rabobank, Société Générale and Unicredit. It selected IBM after a global bidding process.

The Digital Trade Chain solution is designed to connect the parties involved in a trade transaction, both online and via mobile devices. The consortium says that the platform will simplify trade finance processes by addressing the challenge of managing, tracking and securing domestic and international trade transactions.

Rudi Peeters, CIO of KBC, said on behalf of the consortium: “To make the Digital Trade Chain network a reality and enable it to serve potentially thousands of the consortium’s banking clients, we turned to IBM in enterprise blockchain to help us quickly bring this highly scalable system into production. Their blockchain and banking industry expertise will help us create a new platform for small and medium businesses in Europe that can enable them for faster, easier and cheaper trade transactions.”

The platform will also help equip SMEs to initiate trade with new partners domestically or in other European markets. The easy-to-use platform will provide a consolidated view of transactions, helping to promote accountability and contribute to reducing risk.

“In working with hundreds of clients around the world on a diverse range of blockchain projects, trade finance has emerged as one of the strongest use cases for the technology,” said Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Blockchain. “By addressing the SME market, which faces challenges in data sharing and access to capital, the Digital Trade Chain Consortium is pioneering a unique blockchain solution with the potential for widespread impact.”

The Digital Trade Chain network will be built on Hyperledger Fabric v1.0.0, an open source blockchain framework and one of the five Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation, and hosted on the IBM Cloud. The Digital Trade Chain is expected to go into production by end of 2017. The consortium started in January 2017 with seven European banks and is expected to grow to include additional banks from other countries and as well as trading partners such as shippers, freight forwarders and credit agencies.