A new blockchain financial model was debuted yesterday, using the power of Microsoft Azure to pilot a new trade finance solution. Dubbed Marco Polo, the solution has been created through a collaboration between leading banks. Also participating in the platform is finance technology specialist TradeIX and enterprise software company R3.
Microsoft is not part of the group that created Marco Polo, but the company supplies the blockchain underpinning technology. Azure will be foundation of the solution, providing faster processing through the cloud.
“It is exciting to be part of the growing ecosystem building trade finance solutions on blockchain. Microsoft is honoured to be providing our global scale cloud as a foundation to R3 and TradeIX to speed this solution to market,” said Yorke Rhodes III, Azure Blockchain Engineering, Microsoft.
The company has been investing strongly in blockchain development in recent years. Last August, Microsoft unveiled its Coco Framework, an open source blockchain system. Coco is designed to make it easier for organizations to adopt the digital platform.
Marco Polo uses Azure to power its distributed leverage technology. Major banks like BNP, ING, and Commerzbank spearheaded the development alongside TradeIX and R3. DNB, OP Financial Group, and Standard Chartered are among the banks to have joined the initiative in recent months.
The new platform provides post-shipment trade financing on TradeIX’s TiX platform. Among its abilities are efficient and seamless connectivity, end-to-end, and real-time trade links. TradeIX is an open $8 trillion trade market that provides infrastructure for finance systems. In Marco Polo, the platform allows traders to eliminate data silos which make processes less efficient.
“Heavy paper processing across complex supply chain processes are a significant burden to businesses,” said Connie Leung, Senior Director, Financial Services Business Lead – Asia, Microsoft. ”The industry has been looking for solutions to simplify and digitize trade, making supply chain ripe for the benefits of blockchain technology.”
In a press release, the group says Marco Polo is focused on three trade finance sectors. More banks will be welcome during this year and an expansion to more third-parties is also planned. For example, to grow Marco Polo into a cross-industry finance network, the partners want to include ERP and logistics providers and credit insurers.
“We see the proof-of-concept as an important milestone in this project. The fact that more banks have joined also illustrates the interest in this project and in the potential of DLT in supply chain finance solutions.” said Jacques Levet, Head of Transaction Banking EMEA BNP Paribas.