Saudi Arabian, Saudi British Bank (SABB) is utilizing Contour Blockchain platform to enhance trade finance by improving letter of credit and guarantee procedures for enterprises and international businesses. SABB is working with local fintech entity Bwatech.

SABB is now the first bank in KSA to provide the ability to exchange commercial documents digitally, facilitate the procedures for letters of credit using a decentralized technology, and reduce dependency on paper documents and the time required for document settlement in commercial transactions. 

The Blockchain enabled Contour platform improves transaction security because the data that is shared on the network enjoys a high degree of protection and privacy, which reduces the risk of fraud.

The Bwatech platform boosts the automation of bank guarantees. This service aims to replace paper-based procedures with advanced technical methods by linking banks issuing these guarantees with their beneficiaries to expedite the implementation of the issuance and subsequent procedures.

Yasser Al-Barrak, SABB’s CEO of Corporate and Institutional Banking states, “We are extremely proud of the key role that SABB plays in the expansion and development of global trade, while contributing to our Kingdom’s economic and commercial development under Vision 2030. We are committed to make further progress in executing the bank’s digital transformation plans, in this instance to remove obstacles in Trade Finance, improve national trade flows and accelerate the pace of trade for companies operating in the Kingdom. To achieve this SABB is happy to leverage the latest technologies such as blockchain and is flexible enough to work with leading Fintechs. This will contribute to Vision 2030 goals to make the Kingdom a regional trade hub.”

SABB was the first bank in the KSA to complete an international trade transaction via Blockchain technology.

Contour blockchain has been working with various sectors across MENA to improve trade finance.

In early 2022 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and Egypt’s QNB AlAhli bank have facilitating three test letters of credit on the digital trade finance network Contour utilizing Blockchain enabled CargoX platform. The trial took place with QNB ALAHLI bank one of Egypt’s largest commercial banks, acting as issuing bank and the Blockchain enabled CargoX Platform used for electronic presentation of documents.

In September 2022 HSBC has executed a blockchain-enabled, trade finance transaction between Chinese car manufacturer SAIC Motor and the Taajeer Group, Saudi Arabia’s exclusive agent for MG cars. The transaction was conducted on the Contour platform and became the region’s first for the automotive sector.

Singapore based Contour blockchain launched in 2020  after a series of ground-breaking live pilots in 14 countries and a global trial with more than 50 banks and corporates, which reduced processing times for Letters of Credit by over 90%, from 5-10 days to under 24 hours for an industry of USD 18 trillion.

Saudi Arabian Taajeer Group, the exclusive agent for MG cars in the Kingdom has utilized the Blockchain enabled Contour platform in its importing of cars from China. HSBC, Chinese SAIC Motor, and KSA Taajeer group executed a successful blockchain enabled trade finance transaction on the Contour platform.

As per the news this is a regional first for the automotive sector and a first in KSA.

Contour is a digital trade finance network that is building a global standard for trade by bringing together the world’s banks, corporates and ecosystem partners, onto a common, digital, and trusted network.

The Contour platform enabled end-to-end digitisation of the credit documentation required for Taajeer to import a shipment of cars from SAIC in a process that is up to 10 times faster than using physical documents. 

Chaker Zeraiki, Head of Global Trade & Receivables Finance for HSBC UAE, said: “Our digitising at scale means making customers’ lives easier and, with Contour it means we’re cutting costs, reducing risk and speeding up trade. Bringing these benefits to the automotive sector and Saudi Arabia are a measure of our international connectivity and our global leadership in trade banking.”

Trade finance powers much of global trade and, according to HSBC, distributed ledger technology has the potential to reduce transaction times from between five and ten days to under 24 hours, therefore unlocking working capital and enabling more trade to be conducted between markets.

Carl Wegner, CEO of Contour said: “This transaction marks an important milestone in the Middle East’s automotive sector, proving that distributed ledger technology is successfully transforming the trade finance ecosystem. We are excited about the potential of wider adoption in this sector, as having a digital trade solution is no longer an option, but the new standard for the industry.”

The use of Contour’s platform also makes the transactions more secure as data shared on the network are indisputable and transparent, reducing the risk of fraud.

Tom Lee, Managing Director of MG Motor Middle East, owned by the SAIC Group, said: “It brings me great joy to continue to offer ‘best-in-class’ service through an integrated supply-chain programme that can make our operations even more seamless. With HSBC as our partner, we will proactively provide solutions to ensure our customers’ demands are met safely and on schedule. I believe that our bright future is filled with opportunities and our customers can rest assured they will be met with consistent high-quality supply from us, anytime and anywhere in the Middle East region.”

The transaction is also a first in Saudi Arabia where, according to David Leslie, General Manager of the Trade Finance Business at SABB, increased digitisation is aligned to the Vision 2030 initiative to make the Kingdom a regional trade hub. “Blockchain can significantly reduce friction and increase the pace of trade for companies trading with Saudi Arabian entities.”