Japan, Singapore Start Blockchain Pilot to Improve Trade Links

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Japanese IT services provider NTT Data Corporation are working together in a blockchain PoC pilot project aimed at improving trade connectivity between Japan and Singapore.

The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU), Japan’s biggest lender and a subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), and NTT Data Corporation have initiated a blockchain-based proof of concept (PoC) pilot whose goal is to consolidate trade links between Japan and Singapore. 

The pilot is being carried out in collaboration with Singapore’s National Trade Platform (NTP), which is itself a project aimed at bringing innovation into the domestic trading network.

MUFG and NTT Data, a unit of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, will put their efforts into integrating digital trade networks between Japan and Singapore with the help of a prototype trade system that is yet to be completed. The two participants believe this would help “lay the foundation for a regional digitalized trade and supply chain platform in Asia.”

The pilot will try to address a number of issues encountered in international trade, including regulatory disparities and documentation standards. If it succeeds, cross-border trade between the two countries will no longer involve piles of documents.

During the PoC experiment, NTP will be connected to a blockchain ledger provided by the Japanese consortium.

The project can be regarded as a continuation of the Global Trade Connectivity Network (GTCN), in which Singapore and Hong Kong have partnered to explore the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) for bilateral trade systems.

MUFG was listed among the 13 partners of the GTCN, which is expected to launch at the beginning of 2019.

Motoi Mitsuishi, transaction banking head at MUFG, said in comments on the new PoC experiment:

“This initiative is significant to MUFG on many levels. Not only is it an extension of our strategic objective of investing in digital innovation in support of our corporate clients and facilitating their cross-border trade flows in this region, this PoC will go towards creating a global digital ecosystem for trade finance.”

Singapore Customs director general Ho Chee Pong said: “The NTP is an open platform and this PoC with NTT Data is an important building block of our overall strategy to enable the flow of digital trade data with our trade partners globally.”

Jacqueline Loh, deputy managing director at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), noted that the PoC was important for digitalizing trade and establishing Singapore as a leader in transforming trade.

MAS is very active in promoting and supporting blockchain adoption for various use cases, including in the trade market.