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Blockchain? What blockchain?

Why blockchain is not the only answer for transaction banking.

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There were two themes that dominated this year’s Sibos event, held in October in Sydney. One was a widespread understanding that collaboration – between banks themselves, and between the banking industry and tech companies – is essential when addressing the challenges that face transaction banking. But that’s nothing new: everyone has known this for years. It’s just a question of scale, momentum and trust.

The other, more contrarian theme was a growing sense that blockchain is not a magic bullet to transform trade finance overnight, and that plenty can still be achieved in innovation without having anything to do with distributed ledger technology.

Arguably the most important event announced at Sibos was the seven-bank collaboration on what used to be known as Project Wilson but is now referred to, rather less memorably in our view, as the Trade Information Network. Here, ANZ, Santander, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Citi and Standard Chartered have committed to build what they call the first inclusive global multi-bank, multi-corporate network in trade finance.

It was conspicuous for the fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with blockchain.