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Industry roundup: 16 July

Contour and DBS support letter of credit blockchain transaction 

Contour, together with member bank DBS, have completed the network’s first fully digital end-to-end secured letter of credit (LC) between Nanjing Iron & Steel, Singapore Jinteng International and Hope Downs Marketing Company (an equal joint venture between Rio Tinto and Hancock Prospecting).

Facilitated by DBS Bank as the issuing and advising bank, which played an integral role in connecting the parties across the mining value chain, and Contour partner essDOCS, which enabled management of the electronic bill of lading through its CargoDocs solution, the approval of key contract terms, LC issuance and presentation of export documents under the LC were carried out electronically from start to finish on the Contour network. This not only resulted in reduced trade document turnaround times but also provided greater transparency with all parties having access to real-time status updates at each step of the transaction. 

By providing a neutral and open network, Contour says it is able to offer its solution to a wide range of corporates and financial institutions, allowing individual technology providers to integrate within its network to further streamline LC issuance. The transaction highlights Contour’s growing presence in Asia as an industry standard for digitising trade finance documentation, and marks DBS Bank’s second transaction on the network since it became a member bank in May.

 

NAB and Microsoft sign 5-year multi-cloud partnership

National Australia Bank and Microsoft have announced a five-year strategic partnership to co-design, develop and invest in NAB and BNZ’s multi-cloud technology. The partnership will see NAB Group and Microsoft share development costs and resourcing investment to architect a multi-cloud ecosystem that will host 1,000 of the banks’ applications to Microsoft Azure as the primary cloud, while ensuring the same applications can be moved to or run across a secondary cloud if necessary.

NAB has already moved more than 800 applications to public cloud providers as part of its cloud first, multi-cloud strategy. NAB’s proportion of apps on public cloud will move from one third, to around 80% by 2023.

“The needs of our customers haven’t changed, but their expectations of how we deliver a more personalised service has," said NAB Group Executive Technology and Enterprise Operations, Patrick Wright. “To deliver for customers, we need to invest in the latest technology, leveraging global leaders like Microsoft to help us bring new services to our customers, quickly and at scale. Together, we will improve the resilience of NAB and BNZ banking services and reduce development timelines for system changes and improvements, from six weeks to as little as two days.” 

Microsoft’s global engineering team is supporting the program, aware of the international impact it promises. Jason Zander, Executive Vice President, Azure of Microsoft said: “Through this strategic partnership we will collaborate and co-innovate with NAB - creating compelling customer experiences, and streamlining the bank’s own operations.”

Microsoft will also train 5,000 NAB and BNZ technologists as part of the NAB Cloud Guild programme, ensuring NAB personnel are equipped with the skills required.

 

HSBC UK introduces Apple Business Chat 

HSBC UK and first direct have launched Apple Business Chat, adding to their support services for customers and to help with the increased demand on branches and telephone services during the coronavirus outbreak.

When lockdown was first announced, HSBC UK says it saw demand on its contact centres increase by 40%, causing longer wait times for customers. There has also been a significant spike (50%) in customer enquiries via its mobile app and online banking chat services across March and April, accelerating the trend of customers increasingly turning to digital channels for support.

This new service enables both banks to assist with general queries such as registering for mobile banking and information about payment holidays via the Messages app on Apple devices.

Apple Business Chat will provide HSBC UK customers with 24/7 customer service through Apple devices, where they can receive information, general help and advice at their own convenience. Most questions will be answered by a chatbot, but where customers require more complex answers, there will be a customer service agent on hand to respond. Initially, the service will not be available 24/7 for first direct customers, and queries will be answered by first direct’s trained teams.

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