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Hong Kong Trade Finance Will Fight Fraud With a Blockchain-Based Platform

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:03 PM
Mauro Sacramento
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:03 PM

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has partnered with Chinese Ping An to release a blockchain-based trade finance platform. The joint effort is expected to speed-up the process and prevent fraud.

CCN.com first reported the Hong Kong’s de facto central bank’s initiative back on March 30. At the time, the bank unveiled a proof-of-concept (PoC) blockchain platform built for trade finance.

Initiative Went from 6 Participant Banks to More Than 21

The enterprise initially included participants such as Bank of China (Hong Kong), Deloitte, HSBC, the Bank of East Asia, Hang Seng Bank, and Standard Chartered (Hong Kong). The Financial Times now reports  there are a total of at least 21 banks involved in the enterprise, and each of them will share ownership in the platform.

Although trials for the platform began in December and the announcement happened in late March, only now is the HKMA ready to finally launch it, which will occur next month. Ping Ang Group’s financial technology company, OneConnect, was responsible for designing the platform, which will mark the first governmental system of the sort.

Once in place, the platform is expected to reduce the amount of time needed to perform daily supply-chain finance and trade finance transactions — some will now be processed in 24 hours, as opposed to the traditional 10 business days.

Due to the distributed ledger technology, the system will automatically check the validity of all transactions, as well as all parties involved — the amount of paperwork required will drastically decrease.

The Trade Platform Will Bring Small Businesses Back to the Game

HSBC is among the firms participating in the HKMA’s blockchain initiative.

Ping An’s deputy chief executive, Jessica Tan, applauded the central bank’s efforts to take a step forward, saying:

“Instead of individual banks trying to do this you have the regulator trying to bring the banks together.”

Tan believes the platform will also benefit small businesses, as these firms oftentimes struggle to have access to the same banking services as bigger institutions because of high due diligence costs. With the new system, banks would be able to easily extract and evaluate clients’ data in a fraction of the time.

Thanks to its blockchain nature, the platform will be far less susceptible to hacks than conventional data-sharing platforms, marking this as a big step forward for the trade finance industry. Other than reducing the overall cost and processing time of the whole process, this system is also expected to diminish fraudulent activities. Trade finance is characterized by companies asking for a lot more funds than the necessary — with the blockchain-backed system, all trades and transactions are recorded for everyone to see, ensuring complete transparency.

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