Japanese SBI Holdings continues to forge stronger partnerships in the MENA region with the announcement of the launch of its joint venture SBI XDC Network APAC with UAE based TradeFinex.

TradeFinex is the promoter of XDC Network, an enterprise-focused blockchain for the purpose of enhancing efficiency in trade finance. Prior to this in September 2023, the two entities had announced that they would be creating the joint venture.

The purpose of the joint venture is to develop the XDC Network which is a community-driven platform established in 2017 specifically designed for trade finance and payments. It provides a smart contract system that facilitates global trade operations through the tokenization of real-world assets (RWAs) like bonds, tokenization of trade assets, and digitization of trade documents, on high-speed, highly secure, and low-cost blockchain.

Up to now, the SBI Group has been providing various services related to the XDC Network, including becoming the Japan’s first exchange to start handling XDC tokens, through a partnership agreement with SBI VC Trade Co. Ltd. (Head office: Minato-ku, Tokyo; President: Tomohiko Kondo), a company providing crypto asset exchange services within the SBI Group.

Moving forward, the SBI Group will not only focus on services related to the XDC token, but also strive to expand the use cases of the XDC Network’s blockchain technology in global economic activities,  particularly in the fields of trade finance and cross-border payments.

According to the press release, “As the first project after the establishment of the joint venture, we have started a proof-of concept (PoC) experiment that connects XDC Network and the Corda platform provided by SBI R3 Japan Co., Ltd and Corda Bridge provided by US based IMPEL GLOBAL. In this experiment, FIAT payments generated by business-to-business transactions will be conducted in XDC via Corda and Corda Bridge. By utilizing a hybrid blockchain with both private and public characteristics, it is possible to provide a one-stop service that settles both private, such as information of transactions, and public, such as the transfer of value, at once. As a result, this offers an efficient and smooth payment method for cross-border transactions including international trade, compared to conventional fiat currency transactions.”

SBI Holdings over the past months has been forging a variety of partnerships across the region. It signed an MOU with Saudi based Aramco, for digital assets research. SBI Holdings also announced a partnership with Standard Chartered to launch a $100 million Fund in the UAE to also establish a digital asset joint venture.

DP World, Fintech owned platform, DP World Trade Finance has partnered with Blockchain enabled UAE Trade Connect to transform trade finance and combat fraud across the UAE.

DP World Trade Finance can leverage Blockchain enabled UAE Trade Connect platform to detect fraudulent and suspicious invoices as a risk mitigant for its lending capability.

DP World Trade Finance is the first non-bank financial institution participant with direct lending capabilities and embedded fintech value proposition to join the UTC consortium. Created in 2021, UTC is a blockchain-enabled consortium-led trade finance solution co-created by e& enterprise and the UAE banking industry.

Sinan Ozcan, Senior Executive Officer of DP World Trade Finance, said, “If we are to address the trade finance gap truly, we need organizations to work together to build transparency and security into financial processes.”

Zul Javaid, CEO of UTC, said, “DP World Trade Finance’s addition to the UTC consortium is a step in recognising that the country’s lending ecosystem is diversifying, with emerging fintech companies and alternate lenders entering the space.”

DP World Trade Finance connects businesses with financial institutions, directly offering trade finance facilities. Ozcan said the DP World subsidiary hopes to work with UTC members to transform trade finance by building transparency into the lending process.

In October 2023, UAE Trade Connect added its 13th bank member, Invest Bank.

Blockchain Trade Finance platform combating fraud, UAE Trade Connect has just added its 13th bank member. Invest Bank will be the 13th bank to join UAE Trade Connect which is paving the way for a secure, efficient and technologically advanced trade finance landscape.

Initiated in 2021 as a collaborative project between the banking industry and e& enterprise, UTC utilizes cutting-edge technologies such as blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and machine learning to offer a cloud-native solution. This solution enhances transparency by digitizing trade-related documents in real time, detects suspicious transactions, and prevents fraud.

Zul Javaid, CEO, Trade Connect said: “Invest Bank’s inclusion in the UTC consortium demonstrates our commitment to strengthening the UAE banking industry while also playing a fundamental role in advancing the nation’s digital strategy and contributing to its ambitious growth plans. Our platform is not just a technology solution; it serves as a driving force for economic growth and ensures enhanced risk management.”

Helmi Abdullah, Chief Wholesale Banking Officer, at Invest Bank said: “Joining UAE Trade Connect as a member bank is a significant milestone in our journey, as it reinforces our commitment to enhance our digital trade capabilities supports our growth of Trade Finance business in a secure and efficient manner. This decision demonstrates UTC’s dedication to raising banking standards in the UAE.”

As an official member, Invest Bank gains access to a robust system that validates trade finance transactions, identifies duplication, and combats potential fraud in real time. This empowers the bank to make informed lending decisions, increasing lending confidence and safeguarding funds.

The UTC blockchain platform plays a pivotal role in enhancing lending confidence and transparency, facilitating increased lending opportunities towards mitigating risks, enhancing operational efficiency, and validating invoice transactions worth over AED 170 billion equivalent to $46 billion while detecting multi-million-dirham frauds. UTC has made significant progress towards establishing itself as a national invoice registry.

UAE Trade Connect seeks to expand its offering to other banking entities in the region. In a recent LinkedIn post, Zul Javaid, CEO of UAE Trade Connect, the UAE’s first trade finance platform to combat fraud, announced that they had hired Wissam Massud to lead their international expansion. One of the countries on its list is KSA.

UAE based Emirates NBD has inveted in Blockchain enabled Komgo, trade finance platform.

As per the press release, the strategic equity investment was made by Emirates NBD’s Innovation Fund, the Bank’s corporate venture fund.  The fund created in early 2023, aims to strengthen synergies from strategic partnerships by combining the Bank’s digital ambitions and regional expertise with the agility and technological innovations of fintech companies.

Emirates NBD’s corporate venture capital arm will enable the Group to make investments in tech start-ups and companies that further support its digital strategy. The Innovation Fund’s mandate is to invest in a wide range of stages, from early to growth, depending on the strategic fit for the Group, with the aim of delivering strategic benefits and realising a long-term return from investments.

Komgo’s solutions empower Treasury, Credit, and Trade Finance operations, streamlining communications and strengthening operational capacity for more than 10,000 enterprise users worldwide. From its Swiss roots, the company has expanded to key international locations including Singapore, Paris, London, Toronto and Houston, and is trusted by a diverse customer base that includes more than 200 multinational corporations and global trade banks. Approximately USD 1 billion in transaction value flows through the Komgo Network each day.

Komgo has two main products, Trakk which logs documents, creating a digital fingerprint on its blockchain, and  Konsole that matches corporates with banks and offers several solutions including various digital letters of credit and guarantees.

Ahmed Al Qassim, Group Head of Wholesale Banking, Emirates NBD, said: “Our strategic equity investment in Komgo reflects our commitment to constantly innovate and develop tech solutions that can accelerate business processes. We recognise how the fast-changing fintech landscape impacts our industry and we will continue to find and support the next generation of technologies that will help us shape the future of finance and to further strengthen our position as one of the leading financial institutions in the region.”

Souleïma Baddi, CEO at Komgo commented, “We are delighted that Emirates NBD has taken a strategic equity stake in Komgo, becoming the first Middle Eastern bank to hold shares in the company. This marks a significant milestone and a powerful affirmation of Komgo’s solid track record and promising future.”

Souleïma Baddi  CEO at Komgo used to sit on the board of VAKT which also utilizes blockchain to enhanve trade finance.

Prior to this Emirates Bank was one of the founding banks for UAE’s Blockchain fraud detection platform UAE Trade Connect.

UAE Trade Connect is now seeking to its expand its membership based out of the UAE Banking sector to other GCC countries including KSA.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Zul Javaid, CEO of UAE Trade Connect, the UAE’s first trade finance platform to combat fraud, announced that they had hired Wissam Massud to lead their international expansion.

As per the post, Massud will define market-entry strategies as UAE Trade Connect widens its horizons to GCC, other Middle East, Africa countries.

In the post, Javaid states, “We know that UTC’s unique #blockchain technology addresses a real-life pain for banks and tradefinance lending everywhere, so we fully expect to be knocking on lots of countries’ doors in the coming year.”

Prior to this announcement, In May 2023 Zul Javaid coming back fro a recent participation at Global Trade Review conference in KSA had noted that UAE Trade  Connect was interested in offering its solutions to the Saudi Arabian banking sector.

As per Javaid, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a robust banking market, and we are very keen to bring our unique blockchain and AI based engine into the country to help banks de risk their trade finance lending.”

UAE Trade Connect currently has 11 UAE banks among its members and has surpassed $27 million in transactions identifying interbank duplicate financing and preventing fraud attempts.

Blockchain trade finance platform for banks in the UAE, UAE Trade Connect, an e&enterprise company has announced that it has surpassed $27 million in transactions identifying interbank duplicate financing and preventing fraud attempts.

According to their LinkedIn post, “ This accomplishment serves as a testament to the unwavering dedication and commitment of the 12 leading banks in our consortium to combat fraud in real-time. As we move forward, we remain committed to continuously improving our platform’s capabilities and staying ahead of evolving #fraud tactics.”

UAE Trade Connect includes the following UAE banks, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, ADIB – Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Al Masraf, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Commercial Bank International, Dubai Islamic Bank, Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), Mashreq Corporate & Investment Banking Group, National Bank of Fujairah, RAKBANK and United Arab Bank.

UAE Trade Connect  is seeking  to offer its solution to Saudi banking sector.

UTC, the fintech blockchain platform of e& enterprise, is the UAE’s first commercialized solution to combat fraud in the trade finance space built on advanced technologies, namely blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI). UTC is a collaborative project of the banking industry and co-created with e& enterprise. It was developed by UAE based Avanza Innovations.

US blockchain deposit token infrastructure provider which ues Corda by R3 to bring CBC deposit token infrastructure , Fluent Finance has expanded into the MENA region with the opening of its operations in Abu Dhabi, UAE under the new name, Fluent Economic Bridge. Fluent Finance will offer trade finance and cross border payments with the support of UAE Ministry of Economy.

Fluent Finance’s new UAE entity, named Fluent Economic Bridge, will be focused on deposit token infrastructure, promoting cost-effective and borderless trade finance between Abu Dhabi banks and global markets. The company is currently procuring a trade license from Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), an integral part of Fluent’s mission to offer dependable digital asset services to its UAE partners and the global trade community.

On twitter, Fluent Finance stated, “ We’ve expanded into the MEA region, setting the stage for the next chapter in UAE’s FinTech innovation, delivering our leading-edge deposit token infrastructure to Abu Dhabi.” 

They add,  “ The newly formed Fluent Economic Bridge in the UAE is central to this initiative. We’re set to enable cost-effective, borderless trade finance between Abu Dhabi banks and global markets, contributing to the UAE’s global trade expansion. Deposit Tokens will herald the next chapter of UAE’s Fintech Innovation, transforming trade finance and improving cross-border settlements.”

Fluent Finance is a US-based blockchain development and fintech company that is building deposit token infrastructure to help bring trade finance on-chain. Fluent’s primary product is Plus, a stablecoin backed by a consortium of banks to ensure reliable and verifiable liquidity. Fluent aims to connect DeFi and TradFi without sacrificing the core tenets of Web3.

Fluent Finance’s CEO, Bradley Allgood, has meticulously evaluated jurisdictions worldwide before deciding on UAE as the prime location for Fluent’s expansion. He has offered his insights across multiple roundtable discussions organized by Hub71 to optimize the regulatory sandbox for global trade finance and payment infrastructure.

“The UAE has positioned itself as a global leader for digital assets through their special economic zone initiatives, regulation foresight, and global trade expansion with strategic Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs)”, says Allgood. “We use Corda by R3 as our enterprise layer to bring CBDC-compatible deposit token infrastructure for borderless payments, complementing the UAE as they lead the charge on digital transformation.”

He adds, “I am very much looking forward to seeing deposit tokens improve trade throughout developing regions. With transparent and borderless settlement available to any wallet in the world, those most affected by war or climate change with soul bound tokens could get immediate delivery of aid around the clock, any day of the year.”

Deposit tokens, a novel form of digital assets, offer an innovative alternative to conventional stablecoins. Unlike stablecoins, which are pegged to traditional fiat currencies, deposit tokens are backed by actual deposits and issued by banks, offering more transparency, security, and stability to users.

The recent Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) between the UAE and other global partners like India and China marks a significant milestone in fostering a closer financial relationship between the nations. These MoUs account for more than $100 billion in bilateral trade, with a focus on strengthening the use of new technologies and settlement with digital currency. Deposit tokens issued by commercial banks are poised to offer a borderless missing link to accelerate trade settlement to CDBC.

UAE Halliday Growth, a non-bank trade finance provider has partnered with Blockchain entity InvoiceMate to offer Blockchain AI powered invoice financing in the UAE. The agreement was signed during the World Token Summit 2023 held in Dubai UAE.

UAE based, InvoiceMate is a blockchain powered platform for trusted & efficient invoice processing, payments & financing.

Speaking to LaraontheBlock Muhammad Salman Anjum, Founder of InvoiceMate, stated, “For us at InvoiceMate, this partnership is very valuable as it brings diversification of experiences to a real venture.”

He adds, “Halliday Growth is an established brand with extensive experience in the UAE market. InvoiceMate is eager to share its tech competency to reach the common goal of financial inclusion for MSMEs in the region. Blockchain and AI powered InvoiceMate offers a sustainable solution for working capital problems of the businesses.  We are looking forward to serve UAE together.”

Prior to this InvoiceMate and Mentor Health in Pakistan partnered to introduce Health Invoice Financing.

UAE Trade Connect Blockchain enabled trade finance platform looks to offer its solution to Saudi banking sector. Zul Javaid, CEO of UAE Trade Connect expressed his interest in expanding the Blockchain enabled KYC Trade Connect platform to KSA.

This came as UAE Trade Connect participated at the Global Trade Review conference in Riyadh KSA in May of this year.

As per Javaid, “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a robust banking market, and we are very keen to bring our unique blockchain and AI based engine into the country to help banks de risk their trade finance lending.”

Javaid met with several leading Saudi banks at the event. Also present at the event in KSA was First Abu Dhabi Bank and Emirates Bank who are members of Blockchain enable UAE Trade Connect platform.

In February 2023, UAE Trade Connect added its 11th bank to the platform, the United Arab Bank. Prior to that Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) became the 10th bank to join Blockchain trade finance platform.

UTC, the fintech blockchain platform of e& enterprise, is the UAE’s first commercialized solution to combat fraud in the trade finance space built on advanced technologies, namely blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI). UTC is a collaborative project of the banking industry and co-created with e& enterprise.

UAE Trade Connect is a cloud-native solution that detects suspicious transactions, prevents fraud and duplication, and supports a wide range of trade-related documents that is validated and inspected in real time.

At the time, Shirish Bhide, Chief Executive Officer at United Arab Bank, stated, “We wholeheartedly support UTC’s mission of driving digital transformation and reducing fraud risks. This strategic partnership aligns with UAB’s mission to accelerate growth through digitization and to build a secure and transparent trade finance ecosystem. UTC’s benefits will not only protect UAB’s customers and the wider banking system but will also boost global trade. It is a pivotal event in the digitization space, with the potential to make trade financing more accessible, affordable, and equitable.”

Shipsy, a leading global SaaS-based logistics management platform provider which utilizes technologies such as blockchain has signed an MOU with Monsha’at, the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to support Saudi Vision 2030. This development took place at the sideline of Biban 23 Forum.

The MoU highlighted that Shipsy would offer its technology at a significant concession for all customers channeled through Monsha’at. The logistics SaaS provider also earmarked an investment worth USD 10 million over 5 years in the region to drive technology innovation and research and development.

This MoU’s objective will be to develop and support SMEs and entrepreneurship under the laws and regulations in force in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and commensurate with the available resources, aiming to drive growth and economic diversification.

“We are honored to partner with Monsha’at and thrilled to be a part of KSA’s Vision 2030. We are committed to drive technology inclusion in the Kingdom’s rapidly growing supply chain and logistics industry. Technologies like AI, automation, and Machine Learning, IoT, Blockchain and data analytics will create numerous employment opportunities and unlock efficiencies that will help logistics stakeholders build sustainable, agile and cost-efficient logistics processes,” said Soham Chokshi, CEO and Co-Founder, Shipsy.

Prior to this announcement, Alea Global Group Investments carried out a session on Blockchain in Trade Finance during their Alea Sessions edition in Riyadh KSA.

In November 2022, Saudi Arabian, Saudi British Bank (SABB) utilized Contour Blockchain platform to enhance trade finance by improving letter of credit and guarantee procedures for enterprises and international businesses. SABB worked with local fintech entity Bwatech.