Accenture and TradeIX Come Together to Digitize Global Trade
Today Accenture declared a minority investment in TradeIX, and the consultant will also become the approved integration partner. The trade finance network has more than 30 member firms, including Mastercard and various global banks such as Commerzbank, Bank of America, ING, and Standard Chartered.
It’s been 18 months since Dublin-based TradeIX published a $16 million Series A led by ING Ventures. The firm was started by CEO Robert Barnes, who earlier founded a supply chain finance company ‘PrimeRevenue.’
Marco Polo is a slight different from some of the other trade finance consortia as a pure startup-like TradeIX is the network operator. In contradiction, the other groups have combined bank joint ventures.
TradeIX strives to digitize trade and trade finance by automating recently painful processes. While it’s best known for the Marco Polo network, it has also been included in separate projects with DHL, AIG, and Siemens.
Today most trade finance transactions need three-way reconciliations agreeing on paperwork like invoices and delivery between the bank, supplier, and the consumer. By giving the underlying documents straight from the ERP systems onto a distributed ledger technology (DLT) solution, the agreement disappears.
For corporates, apart from eliminating friction, Marco Polo offers the option of getting financing from multiple banks from a single dashboard that plugs directly into its ERP system. To date, the integrations are with Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle Netsuite, and Xero.
But Accenture’s engagement may see the number of ERP solutions grow. The companies intend to work together to automate procure-to-pay and order-to-cash solutions.
“Our goal is to scale this capability to help organizations achieve touchless payable and receivable processes,” said Melanie Cutlan, Managing Director for blockchain services at Accenture Operations.
Additionally, Accenture will help TradeIX with new use cases concentrating on the corporates as opposed to just the banking consumers.
That’s one of the demands of the relationship to Accenture. The consultancy has been addressing DLT with a focus on the supply chain, financial services infrastructure, and identity, and Marco Polo traverses all three.
“Not only can we help our banking clients better understand the technology by partnering closely with Marco Polo, but also to bring that capability to our corporates,” said Cutlan.
Marco Polo’s original rollout plan is targeting large enterprises, which make up Accenture’s client base. Therefore, independent of the investment, Accenture will provide the roadmap of the platform by filling back the features and functions demanded by corporates.
In terms of the alliance, Cutlan talked about the need to “help those clients through the transformation. How do you improve your process so that you’re dependent on a shared copy of data, instead of your own? How do you modify your processes? How do you look at them separately? How do you avoid the exception processing that happens today, from the beginning?” And the ultimate purpose is to achieve “touchless processing.”
With this declaration, Accenture is now a partner in two of the largest blockchain consortia, the other being the RiskStream Collaborative for insurance, with more than 50 insurer members and where Accenture is the leading technology partner. Both of the consortia use R3’s Corda blockchain technology.
Accenture also recently uncovered a blockchain interoperability solution that is open-sourced via Hyperledger.
The consulting company has built substantial inroads into the DLT field, with 160 significant clients seeking 340 projects and more than 2,500 people formally trained within the last two years.
That growth is a sign of the maturing enterprise blockchain market. “It’s been an exciting year to see blockchain kind of take-off from idea to concept, to driving to production scale and value,” said Accenture’s Cutlan. “And partnerships like Marco Polo that’s getting very close to production is where we’re seeing the market moving to.”