Alfa-Bank, one of the largest private commercial banks in Russia, has joined the HSBC-backed blockchain-based trade finance network.
Alfa-Bank is the first Russian bank to join Contour, a blockchain platform that brings together the world’s largest financial institutions such as HSBC, ING and Citi, according to an official announcement on November 3. The network allows the bank’s clients to track the processing and adjustment of trade finance transactions and reduce operating costs.
Evgenia Fumina, Head of the Credit Department of Alfa-Bank, said that Contour’s pilot projects in the Russian market intend to improve the quality of cross-border transactions, noting:
“Joining the Contour platform and launching pilot projects in the Russian market will allow us to adjust the product development strategy for cross-border transactions. Customer requests are becoming more complex and we always try to offer the best solutions. ”
Formerly known as “Voltron”, Contour focuses on the process of preparing and issuing letters of credit using the R3 Corda blockchain. The initiative was launched in 2018 by R3 and eight global banks including HSBC, ING, Citi, Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered, SEB, and CTBC.
Although the project kicked off two years ago, the Contour Network finally started just last month. According to Global Trade Review, Contour was released in beta in early October 2020 following the launch of a commercial beta in early 2020. On November 1, HSBC Global Banking announced the completion of the country’s first blockchain-based credit letter and Contour agreement.
Karl Wegener, CEO of Contour, said that the entry of Alfa-Bank into the network was another milestone for the project. “Their participation will continue to build a comprehensive network that will improve trade worldwide,” Wegner said.
Alfa-Bank is headquartered in Moscow and is no stranger to blockchain technology. Since 2018, the bank is also a member of the large blockchain consortium R3. In October 2019, Alfa-Bank launched a trial version through the Marco Polo R3 network to test payments between Russia and Germany. Earlier, Alfa-Bank launched a liquidity management service based on the institution’s blockchain waves.