The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookiesbefore using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Blockchain revolution meets hard reality in trade finance

The recent failures of and Serai, HSBC’s B2B trade finance platform for SMEs, highlight the challenges that blockchain-based solutions face in trade finance.

Photo: iStock

In 2018, the World Trade Organization asked: can blockchain revolutionize international trade? It reported on possible applications of blockchain and stated that the technology opened interesting opportunities to enhance the efficiency of several processes and cut costs in these areas.

The author of the report said that if the projects under development succeeded, blockchain could become the future of trade infrastructure and the biggest disruptor to the shipping industry and to international trade since the invention of the container.

One of the highest profile ventures in this space was, which started offering commercial services in 2019. A joint-venture company owned by 12 European banks and IBM, it promised to enhance cash flow by digitizing paper-based processes.

However, the platform struggled to deliver a return on investment for its backers. Even financial support from IBM and a new capital round were not enough to prevent it folding in May.

It is interesting to see a shift away from blockchain for some trade finance-related initiatives, especially since blockchain was positioned as the key differentiator for their solution
Jacco De Jong, Bolero

Just a few weeks later, B2B online trade platform Serai also admitted defeat in its efforts to build a commercially viable business.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?