EBRD accelerates trade-finance digitalisation with National Bank of Greece, TBC Bank and Nordea

By Axel  Reiserer

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is stepping up its support for the digital transition of trade finance by facilitating test transactions between National Bank of Greece, TBC Bank in Georgia and Nordea on the we.trade digital trade platform. The tests will take place through we.trade’s Preview Offering Program, with a special focus on access to trade finance for small businesses.

The Preview Offering Program enables banks and clients around the world to participate in test transactions with we.trade member banks. Banks also receive extensive operational, information technology (IT), sales and marketing, and legal and compliance consultancy services, tailored to their level of digitalisation.

we.trade is owned by 12 European banks, technology company IBM, and CRIF, a global commercial credit and business information provider. The platform is based on the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric and runs on the IBM Blockchain Platform.

The EBRD has designated digitalisation one of three priorities under its current five-year strategy. As part of this approach, the Bank is partnering with digital solutions providers and banks to support digitalisation efforts in trade finance within and beyond the regions in which it invests. The introduction of inclusive digital solutions is critical to ensuring that local banks and their small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) clients across the EBRD regions are not left behind in the digital transition.

The EBRD is also working with the International Chamber of Commerce Banking Commission and the International Trade and Forfaiting Association to advance the adoption of legal frameworks to enable digital trade and trade finance.

Francis Malige, EBRD Managing Director, Financial Institutions said: “We are pleased to support the Preview Offering Program on we.trade for National Bank of Greece and TBC Bank and to facilitate their test transactions with Nordea. The EBRD is committed to supporting the digital transition in the regions where it invests. As the first multilateral development bank to set up support for trade finance in 1999, we are pleased to be at the forefront of innovation once again.”

Aris Divaris, National Bank of Greece’s Assistant General Manager, Operations said: “National Bank of Greece is delighted to collaborate with the EBRD, Nordea and TBC Bank in the execution of test transactions on we.trade. We actively support Greek businesses’ efforts to enter foreign markets, assisting them in maintaining an effective flow across their physical and financial supply chains. National Bank of Greece has prioritised digitalisation in trade finance as one of the most critical targets within the bank’s transformation programme, aiming at offering innovative value-added solutions to the Greek market.”

Tamara Khizanishvili, Director, Trade and Structured Finance Department at TBC Bank, said: “We at TBC Bank are dedicated to technological advancement and are proud to be part of the Preview Offering Program. We are thankful to the EBRD for this opportunity. TBC Bank works with the biggest players in the market and we are committed to progressing technologically – this once again affirms our position as a leader in the Georgian market.”

Lena Hedengran, Acting Head, Trade Solutions at Nordea, said: “The preview possibility of the we.trade platform is an important enabler for banks and other parties to test, study and analyse we.trade’s value proposition, as well as how to apply the new network’s possibilities to their unique market needs and requirements. We are very happy with the collaboration with National Bank of Greece and TBC Bank, facilitated by the EBRD, to leverage the possibilities with these important trade corridors in a new dimension.”

National Bank of Greece, TBC Bank and Nordea are participants in the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP), launched in 1999 to promote foreign trade to, from and among the economies in which the EBRD invests. Through the programme, the EBRD provides guarantees to international confirming banks and short-term loans to selected banks and factoring companies for on-lending to local exporters, importers and distributors. The TFP currently includes more than 100 partner banks in 30 economies where the EBRD invests and more than 800 confirming banks worldwide.

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