Nordea reports first trades on blockchain-based platform

Maria Nikolova

Developed by Nordea in collaboration with eight other banks, the vision for we.trade is to allow companies to trade in a fast, easy and transparent way.

Blockchain-based technologies are gaining support among certain financial companies. Earlier today, Nordea announced that blockchain platform we.trade has performed its first trades.

The bank said the platform was launched today with pilot customers making live trades. Developed by Nordea in a European-wide collaboration with eight other banks, the aim of we.trade is to create a common platform which enables companies, from SMEs to large corporates, to trade in a fast, easy and transparent way. The goal is to fully automate the trading process and seamlessly connect the entire trade ecosystem.

The launch of the platform has seen the completion of the first ever bank guaranteed trade transaction on a multi-party blockchain network in Europe.

Patrik Zekkar, Head of Trade Finance & Working Capital Management at Nordea, says. “The we.trade platform creates trust in the trading system and reduces the catch-22 that occurs at the beginning of a trade. Do I ship products before I receive payment or do I as buyer pay before I receive the shipment? That was the kind of basic need we wanted to cover before building from there. Using blockchain technology of this kind and scaling it up to this level is a real first. This project has been running for 1.5 years and to reach the stage of running live DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) blockchain transactions across Europe is quite important and a big breakthrough.”

Traditionally SMEs have faced a three-way trade off between bearing the risk, purchasing complex and expensive coverage or even turning down a business opportunity. The use of blockchain technology enables the automatic generation of payment instructions to be submitted to the debtor’s bank as soon as contractual conditions are met. This reduces the risk of payment delays which can be costly for both buyers and sellers.

The we.trade platform also offers SMEs in particular, access to easy financing, the chance to avoid prepayments and a portfolio of different solutions that can help them wherever they are in the business cycle.

Magnus Montan, Head of Business Banking at Nordea, notes:

“This platform is a controlled and transparent environment that removes the unknowns from the trading process and creates trust. However, it’s not only the technology which protects customers and gives them visibility. A rule book and a legal structure have also been put in place stipulating the conditions for submitting transactions in we.trade. It’s a legal framework to find comfort in”.

In addition, Nordea stresses that the collaboration with the other banks has made it possible to create a large Europe-wide trading ecosystem with a critical mass of customers to ensure a relevant and sustainable platform. This shared economy facilitated by a community of banks has been undertaken for the benefits of customers, especially SMEs.

“This is massive disruptive change for the industry. This is just the beginning and I don’t think we can really foresee where it will take us. It’s not just about digitalising existing trade processes or part of the existing supply chain, it’s about totally changing the set-up of how we conduct our trade. It’s an order-to-payment set up – order all the way to cash,” concludes Patrik Zekkar.

we.trade was established by Deutsche Bank, HSBC, KBC, Natixis, Nordea, Rabobank, Santander, Societe Generale and UniCredit in order to address the expectations of their customers to make cross-border trade more straightforward. Currently, the platform is available in 11 European countries: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

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