A joint venture between the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and China’s Ping An group will launch its own blockchain -based trade finance solution next month, which plans to improve access to funding for smaller businesses, according to the Financial Times.
The initiative between the HKMA – the equivalent of Hong Kong’s central bank – and Ping An’s fintech subsidiary OneConnect aims to substantially reduce paperwork, costs and security risks for participants, the paper reports.
A total of 21 banks will participate in the scheme, which promises to reduce the amount of time and bureaucracy involved in signing up new fledgling businesses to banking services by making transactions swifter and more efficient.
The use of blockchain will enable some transactions to process in just one day, compared to current methods that can take up to 14 days.
Plans for the scheme were first announced last November. According to Ping An deputy chief executive Jessica Tan it marks the first example of a regulator “bringing banks together” to improve trade finance and builds on an earlier scheme from HSBC, which was limited to a single bank.
“Instead of individual banks trying to do this you have the regulator trying to bring the banks together,” Tan told the FT.
She added that a key feature of blockchain-based trade finance platform is its ability to help smaller companies gain greater access to supply-chain finance (SCF) and trade. Small companies are often denied a variety of banking services due to the lengthy process of signing up new clients.
OneConnect believes that blockchain makes it possible to access company information at a lower cost, enabling trade finance businesses to sign up more small businesses. Additionally, the blockchain-based trade finance platform will also make fraud detection simpler and easier.
Ping An has already developed blockchain-powered solutions for the Chinese domestic market, and hopes the same technology will see success in Hong Kong, a major global shipping hub. The company, China’s second-biggest insurer with assets worth 4.7 trillion yuan ($704bn) joined the distributed ledger technology-focused R3 consortium in 2016.