Japan’s TIS INTEC Group invests in digital trade finance network Contour

TIS INTEC Group, one of Japan’s leading IT services providers, has invested in Contour, the digital trade finance network. The investment follows TIS and its affiliates partnering with Contour in various Asian countries throughout 2021 to accelerate digitisation of trade finance in the region.

Contour continues to strengthen its foothold in Japan, having also secured investment from SMBC earlier this year. The country is an important market for Contour because of its large trade volumes in sectors such as commodities, large equipment and automotive – all of which rely heavily on trade finance products such as Letters of Credit (LCs).

The process of acquiring LCs, however, is often characterised by large volumes of paper-based documentation, generating high administrative costs, inefficiencies, and barriers to financing. Contour’s decentralised network overcomes these challenges. By digitising LCs, Contour’s platform reduces the paperwork involved in trade transactions, significantly shortening the settlement time of trade documents.

With the new investment from TIS, Contour will continue to grow its innovation lab to explore a range of new trade finance products and processes, with early projects focusing on how Contour can add value to guarantee/standby LC processes as well as open account solutions. Contour will also continue to grow its global team, which is headquartered in Singapore.

Through the partnership between the two firms, TIS can integrate the legacy systems of banks and corporates with Contour’s digital network, allowing trading counterparties to benefit from heightened connectivity and more streamlined communications.

Carl Wegner, Chief Executive Officer at Contour, said: “This investment marks another major milestone in Contour’s mission to digitise trade finance – both in Asia and globally. We are delighted to further strengthen our relationship with TIS and look forward to continuing to innovate and roll-out a number of exciting new products and capabilities on our platform in 2022.”

Kensaku Furusho, Executive Officer, Head of Global Business at TIS, said: “We are delighted to announce this significant partnership with Contour. TIS has been focusing on business innovation through blockchain technology since its emergence and has attained expertise in various blockchain businesses — not only in Japan but also in ASEAN and China. We find that there is a lot of potential for innovation in the trade finance business due to digitalisation, and as globalisation and trade transactions expand, efficiency will be the key to success. TIS and its Group companies, together with Contour, will work towards realising digital transformation in trade and help our customers’ journey towards globalisation through Contour’s leading trade platform and global partner network.”

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