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Digital trade finance consortium Contour to close - Industry roundup: 1 November

Digital trade finance consortium Contour to close

Contour, the global network of banks, corporates and trade partners focusing on digitising the trade finance industry through DLT, is to close at the end of November.

The closure, first reported on GTR, comes as the network was unable to find the funding to sustain itself, despite counting the likes of BNP Paribas, Citi, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Bangkok Bank, CTBC Bank, ING, SEB and SMBC as backers.

Speaking to GTR, Contour CEO Carl Wegner acknowledged that “having a large group of investors without a lead investor makes it hard. It would be the lead investor who would manage the board and manage the round, and we’ve never had that.”

As a result, Contour will discontinue operations permanently as of 30 November, giving network users a month to conclude transactions and recover any meaningful data from the platform.

In a LinkedIn post, Wegner reflected: “Digitising something as complex as trade finance is not a sprint; there have been challenges and lessons learned along the way. While this was not the outcome we had expected, I truly believe the trade finance industry will continue to evolve over time and see significant progress in digitalisation. Hopefully some of the standards being put in place will make it easier for the future pioneers.”


Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and UK partner on digital asset innovation

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced that it is partnering with the Financial Services Agency of Japan (FSA), the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to advance digital asset pilots in fixed income, foreign exchange and asset management products. 

Under MAS’ Project Guardian, MAS has collaborated with 15 financial institutions to carry out industry pilots on asset tokenisation in fixed income, foreign exchange, and asset management products. These pilots have demonstrated the potential to reap significant market and transaction efficiencies from tokenisation. As the pilots grow in scale and sophistication, there is a need for closer cross-border collaboration among policymakers and regulators. MAS has, therefore, established a Project Guardian policymaker group comprising FSA, FCA and FINMA. 

Specifically, the policymaker group aims to:

  • Advance discussions on legal, policy and accounting treatment of digital assets.
  • Identify potential risks and gaps in existing policies and legislation relevant to tokenised solutions.
  • Explore the development of common standards for designing digital asset networks and market best practices across various jurisdictions.
  • Promote high standards of interoperability to support cross-border digital assets development.
  • Facilitate industry pilots for digital assets through regulatory sandboxes, where applicable.
  • Promote knowledge sharing among regulators and industry. 

“MAS’ partnership with FSA, FCA and FINMA shows a strong desire among policymakers to deepen our understanding of the opportunities and risks arising from digital asset innovation,” commented Leong Sing Chiong, Deputy Managing Director (Markets and Development), MAS. “Through this partnership, we hope to promote the development of common standards and regulatory frameworks that can better support cross-border interoperability, as well as sustainable growth of the digital asset ecosystem.” 


Surecomp adds Semsoft’s trade risk intelligence solution to digital trade finance hub

Surecomp has announced that Semsoft is the latest fintech to be integrated into its trade finance hub, RIVO. The company’s solution, LESTR - an advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics maritime and trade risk intelligence platform - is designed to enable companies to monitor suspicious activity across their international trade operations.

The strategic partnership with French-based Semsoft has been developing over several months, with RIVO customers now able to seamlessly access the LESTR solution to mitigate trade-based risk, streamline due diligence and escalation workflows, and provide in-depth analysis of trade and trade finance activity.

In its continued effort to facilitate streamlined trade finance process efficiency and reduce time, cost and risk, the addition of LESTR to RIVO marks another significant milestone. Regulatory requirements and international guidelines, such as the recent advisory published by OFAC, clearly emphasise a rise in illicit trade, which needs to be monitored. As a result, it’s increasingly essential for companies to optimise visibility and controls across their supply chain to build resilience for future growth.

“Shipping has long been used as a cover for illegal activity but this has become an even bigger issue following recent fraud cases and geopolitical events,” explained Claire Paulus, Head of Business Process and Development, Semsoft. “We’re delighted that LESTR is now available to RIVO customers, expanding the reach of trade-related risk management and informed decision-making for enhanced compliance and maritime security.”


Crédit Agricole launches corporate savings account linked to ESG performance

Crédit Agricole CIB has introduced a novel ESG-linked corporate savings account offering as part of the bank’s strategic ambition to support clients’ sustainability goals and to innovate for a sustainable future.

The bank says this savings account differs from other green account offerings where the cash collected will be used to refinance green projects. The new product is a cash management solution that enables clients to earn a higher yield on their account balances as they improve their ESG performance. It aims to motivate clients to proactively and continuously realise their ESG goals through recurring monetary incentives in the long term.

When clients approach Crédit Agricole CIB to open an ESG-linked account, the bank’s sustainable investment bankers will assess and formulate the offering structure based on clients’ current progress and future ESG goals. As clients progressively honour their ESG commitments, the savings account rate offered by the Bank will positively correlate to reflect the organisations’ ESG progress as a remuneration for their efforts. To ensure impartiality, the ESG performance assessment will be based on the ESG scores provided by independent ESG score providers. Crédit Agricole CIB is currently receiving S&P Global Sustainable1’s ESG scores from S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The first ESG-linked accounts the bank offers have been piloted in Hong Kong with New World China and NWS Holdings, who share the bank’s ambition to support sustainability. New World Group and Crédit Agricole CIB have pledged to reach net zero by 2050. 


BNP Paribas appoints Lenvi to support risk management for factoring

Lenvi, a provider of commercial lending software and solutions to the factoring and receivables finance market, has been appointed by BNP Paribas to support its European risk management and operations function through its risk management software Riskfactor.

Throughout the multi-year contract, Lenvi will support BNP Paribas in reducing risk and improving operational efficiency. Through the implementation of the full-service risk management and fraud analytics software for receivables finance, Riskfactor will enable BNP Paribas to prevent and manage risk and fraud better.

BNP Paribas will implement the complete Riskfactor product portfolio in eight European countries. The solution has over 90% market share in the UK and a significant presence in continental Europe, where it has been active since 2007. 

“Riskfactor allows businesses to harmonise responses and operations across jurisdictions, resulting in significant improvement in overall operations efficiency,” said Richard Carter, CEO, Lenvi. 


FATF advances efforts to counter money laundering and terrorist financing

At its plenary meeting this week, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global standard-setting body for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, advanced numerous initiatives to strengthen global anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing standards.

Among the initiatives that the FATF advanced, its members adopted revisions to its asset recovery standards to strengthen the tools available to law enforcement, asset recovery agencies, and the criminal justice system to target and recover criminal proceeds and improve mutual legal assistance. FATF members also adopted a report on how terrorist groups like Hamas use crowdfunding techniques to raise money for their attacks. 

The FATF, in response to the commitment made by FATF Ministers in April 2022 to further efforts by the FATF to counter corruption, adopted a report on the misuse of citizenship and residency by investment (CBI/RBI) programs, highlighting how corrupt actors, tax evaders, and other criminals have exploited these programs to disguise their identity, open bank accounts to establish shell companies or conceal where they may owe taxes or other liabilities from financial institutions by using new identification documents. 

The FATF also, as part of its ongoing efforts to address the misapplication of the FATF standards, revised Recommendation 8, the standard related to the protection of non-profit organisations (NPOs) from misuse by terrorist financiers and other illicit actors. FATF members sent for public comment draft guidance to implement the revised standards on beneficial ownership of trusts and similar legal arrangements. The FATF will also undertake work relating to countries’ compliance with Recommendation 5, which requires countries to criminalise terrorist financing. 

FATF members voted for the accession of Indonesia as the FATF’s 40th member. The United States welcomes Indonesia’s membership and recognizes the substantial progress Indonesia has made to improve its AML/CFT regime. 

“The United States welcomes the FATF’s work to combat terrorist financing, strengthen asset recovery, protect non-profit organizations from misuse, and address the illicit finance risks associated with citizenship and residency by investment programs,” said US Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen. “These steps are critical to denying terrorist organizations access to funds, safeguarding the global financial system, and enhancing collective efforts to address financial crime.”


DTCC Report Hub introduces trade reporting analytics

Post-trade market infrastructure DTCC has announced the launch of Trade Reporting Analytics and UTI Exchange as part of its DTCC Report Hub service. Report Hub is a cloud-based pre and post-reporting platform that helps firms manage the complexities of meeting multiple derivatives and securities financing transaction mandates across 14 global regimes.

DTCC Report Hub’s Trade Reporting Analytics provides reporting parties access to a growing library of over 100 data insights on their own reporting behaviour to identify potential errors, highlight trends, and benchmark performance against anonymised peers. A pilot user group, including J.P. Morgan, Nomura Americas Services, LLC, and Wells Fargo, have validated Report Hub’s Trade Reporting Analytics capabilities.

Delivered by API, the UTI Exchange supports the exchange of UTIs by counterparties as required by most major derivatives regulatory reporting regimes under existing rules and upcoming rules rewrites. Through a no-touch workflow, UTIs can also be automatically enriched onto a trade and submitted using DTCC Report Hub’s Pre Reporting service.

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