Global trade has been in the spotlight this year as the pandemic exposed many shortcomings and choke points of this paper-based industry, whether it be ships stranded at ports, all-time-high shipping rates, or the Suez Canal blockage. Yet, from these incidents, global trade has benefitted from the scrutiny. The case for digital and process reform of this sector has never been clearer.
At Contour, we can attest to this first-hand. As the leading global digital trade network, we have had a busy year, seeing our network grow rapidly as clients recognise the urgent need to digitise their trade finance processes.
As global trade goes through its metamorphosis, we would like to pause and reflect on some of our biggest accomplishments this year.
Global recognition as a leader transforming trade finance
Contour’s success in driving trade digitisation gained recognition as we won several awards this year:
- ‘Leader in Trade for Digitalisation 2021’ by Global Trade Review (GTR)
- ‘Best New Trade Finance Technology Solution Provider Asia & Singapore 2021’ by Global Banking & Finance Review
- We were named to the ‘Financial NewTech Watchlist 2021’ by Efma-CapGemini as a leading global fintech reshaping the financial services landscape
- Contour was also named to the Fintech Power 50 cohort of trailblazing fintechs in the world
Our members have also seen great success from their transactions on Contour. Earlier this year, DBS, Rio Tinto, Standard Chartered, Vale and Viyellatex, all won ‘Best Trade Finance Solution – Digital Solutions’ at The Asset Triple A Awards 2021. Vale also recently bagged the ‘Highly Commended Win’ at the Adam Smith Awards Asia 2021. These award-winning transactions, which were all conducted on Contour’s platform, are a testament to our impactful and transformative solution that is leading the digital transformation of the industry.
Our network has solidified
- Our network continues to establish itself as the global leader as we add up to one to two new corporates per day, with a total of 16 banks in 51 countries with clients conducting trades on a regular basis in key markets.
- We also facilitated many significant transactions for market leaders, such as the steel industry’s first blockchain-based transaction with HSBC and Tata Steel. SMBC was the first Japanese bank to complete a commercial trade transaction on Contour while PermataBank conducted Indonesia’s first blockchain-enabled transaction. Standard Chartered also completed the first blockchain transaction between India and Bangladesh.
- We have also joined forces with a host of new strategic partners in key regions, growing our footprint across APAC, with tie-ups with various system integrators. These have included ThoughtWorks in China, MFEC in Thailand, Tinhvan in Vietnam and most recently, with TIS in Japan, who has also become our latest investor.
- These partnerships also include collaboration with different networks in new industries, such as MineHub, which specialises in digitising the Metals and Mining supply chain, and GSBN, a digital shipping network. We are currently expanding into other verticals with new partnerships to be announced next year.
Ramping up in China
China remains a big market for Contour through significant partnerships, active promotions and transactions by our members. In October, Contour partnered with the Shenzhen FinTech Institute, a subsidiary of The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), to look at opportunities to boost China’s trade ecosystem and further the adoption of trade digitisation across Asia – replacing outdated paper-based processes in one of the most important trade markets in the world.
Adding to China’s appetite for digitisation, HSBC China became the first foreign bank in Mainland China to complete a blockchain-based transaction, issuing an LC in just 10 minutes; while ICBC (Asia) and Bank of China HK have both actively used Contour’s technology to facilitate cross-border trade.
We are growing and innovating
This momentum is only set to continue into 2022, as we double down on our growth through innovation and staff expansion.
- To give us the foundation to serve more banks and businesses, we successfully completed a Series A+ funding round in June this year. We would like to take this opportunity to again thank all those who backed Contour through this vote of confidence.
- In addition to that, we secured new investment from Japan’s TIS INTEC Group, in December, allowing us to bring paperless trade to businesses in Japan.
- This year also saw us launch our Innovation Lab in Singapore. The ‘Future of Finance’ lab will further develop Contour’s product offering, with new products like guarantees, standby Letters of Credit and open account under the new URDTT from the ICC. And this is just the beginning – Singapore is the perfect environment for innovation, and the lab will enable us to collaborate more closely with our network locally and globally.
2022 will no doubt bring a fresh set of challenges and opportunities for global trade. Amid the sector’s journey to becoming more efficient, equitable and transparent, Contour is confident that digitisation is the enabling lever. In line with this, we look forward to expanding our product line to better serve the needs of our clients. Our Chief Product Officer, Josh Kroeker, will expand on this, and outline some of Contour’s plans for next year, in his upcoming lookahead to 2022 blog. Watch out for it in January.