DBS Bank and Contour extend digital trade offerings to Asia-Pacific
By Leandra Monteiro
To further push the digitalisation of trade finance in major trade hubs in the region, DBS Bank has expanded its offerings on Contour’s rapidly growing trade finance network to corporate customers in four key markets in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC).
DBS was the first Singapore-based bank to join Contour’s beta network and completed the first fully digital Letter of Credit (LC) transaction on the platform last year. The bank has now moved from Contour’s beta network to its production network to offer streamlined digital LC transactions for customers across Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore from this month.
Singapore-based Contour and its ecosystem of bank partners such as DBS are working together to drive a collective effort to digitise global trade. Built on R3’s Corda, Contour’s network focuses on digitising paper-based trade finance processes, including the creation, exchange, approval and issuance of LCs, which are often cost-intensive and time-consuming.
APAC is a key region leading the digitisation of trade finance as banks and corporates seek to mitigate risk and enhance cost efficiency in the wake of the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditional paper-based LC processes have been an obstacle to trade growth and created unnecessary complexity, cost and delays.
By joining Contour, DBS will be able to provide a fully digital end-to-end LC settlement process for its customers in Australia, China, Hong Kong and Singapore, including the transfer of electronic trade and title documents. This helps shorten settlement time, reduce paperwork and simplify complex trade processes. To date, those on the Contour network have seen efficient gains, reducing the process of an LC presentation by up to 90%.
Contour’s decentralised network also reduces forgery and fraud opportunities as it validates all identities on its secure network and leverages its technology partners to match trade documents to real-time data, greatly reducing the chances of fraudulent activity.
Carl Wegner, CEO at Contour said, “The addition of another major Asian bank to our production network highlights Contour’s growing presence in APAC as an industry standard for digitising trade finance documentation. DBS has been an important partner for Contour in our work to support Singapore’s position as a key trading hub and has already participated in a number of successful transactions on our network. We’re delighted to facilitate its transition to offering live services to customers in these four markets. This is another important step on our journey to becoming the new digital end-to-end infrastructure for global trade.”
Sriram Muthukrishnan, Group Head of Trade Product Management, DBS Bank said, “Our partnership with Contour aligns with DBS’ ongoing efforts to drive greater efficiencies in trade and unlock strategic value for our corporate customers. We recognise that digitisation is a powerful enabler to simplify the highly complex nature of trade finance, especially for processes relating to letters of credit. Digitising trade processes is also an increasingly relevant and heightened priority for corporates to survive and thrive in the new normal and will form an integral component for resilient trade ecosystems of the future.”