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Chinese Banks Stepping up Blockchain Cross-border Trade Financing

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 2 min read

Chinese banks are looking to up their cross-border trade game – with a series of new blockchain-powered innovations that could seek to reduce the nation’s dollar dependence.

Source: Adobe/Eagle

Per Sina, the Beijing-based China CITIC Bank, the country’s seventh-biggest lender, has become the first domestic bank in mainland China to make use of a blockchain-powered cross-border letter of credit in RMB for a domestic firm.

The bank made use of the Contour blockchain-based trade finance initiative platform to conduct the transaction. The initiative is an international effort that also comprises Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, CTBC, HSBC, ING, Standard Chartered, SEB and Citi – and its platform went live earlier this year after several months of beta testing.

In the banking industry, letters of credit are typically issued in paper form as part of a process that can take several days. The media outlet reported that port operators have warned supply chains are being disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, with a pressing need to use faster, contact-free trade financing solutions to plug the gaps.

China CITIC Bank’s debut involved the firm issuing an RMB import letter of credit for an importing company located in the Guangxi autonomous region in southern China for a total of USD 18m.

Meanwhile, the country’s biggest bank, the state-run Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), has joined the foreign exchange market regulatory State Administration of Foreign Exchange’s cross-border financial blockchain service platform, per a report from China Email – although its first transaction on the platform made use of the American greenback.

The media outlet reported that on the same day that the system was connected, ICBC provided a customs declaration verification on a USD 20m export invoice financing deal for a manufacturing company based in Guangdong, which improved the efficiency of financial services for foreign trade companies.

And in other banking-related news, tech and entertainment industry giant Tencent’s WeBank has struck what it terms a “blockchain + Big Data” deal with the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China as well as the Big Data unit of China Unicom, the state-owned telecommunications operator, per ABI.

The university, based in Chengdu, is one of China’s top tech colleges and three parties said they will conduct “in-depth research on blockchain technology” and develop a range of open-source blockchain resources.