Blackstone Majority-Owned Indian Tech Firm Partners With Bitfury on Trade Finance Project

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Indian tech firm Mphasis — majority-owned by the American multinational private equity firm Blackstone Group — has partnered with blockchain tech giant Bitfury on a trade finance project, Reuters reported on May 28.

The report notes that Blackstone owns 52.3% of Mphasis, which is listed on the National Stock Exchange of India. According to Reuters, details of the Mphasis-Bitfury project are still evolving, but Mphasis’ senior vice president and global head of payments Andres Ricaurte has reportedly stated that:

“Our goal is to accelerate the disruption and transformation in the trade finance space. The exact end-goal — whether it’s a platform, a trade token, or a consortia is still to be figured out.”

The prospective digital token or platform would potentially aim to automate payments and other financial services in international trade transactions, according to an unnamed Mphasis executive.

While several projects are already ostensibly aiming to leverage new technologies to modernize aspects of global trade transactions, Ricaurte reportedly claimed that core financial services involved — including cross-border settlement and transaction financing — remain reliant on cumbersome and outmoded infrastructure.

Ricaurte claimed that the resulting inefficiencies — compromised visibility for various parties and liquidity lags — have contributed to a worldwide gap of as high as $1.5 trillion between the demand and supply of trade finance. He noted that the project with Bitfury will therefore aim beyond the basic creation of a digital currency, but more broadly seek to create:

“A digital representation of the liquidity that’s trapped inside this supply chain and leveraging that representation to make trade transactions more seamless and transparent to everyone.”

In order to develop the joint trade finance offering, Mphasis will reportedly leverage Bitfury’s open source framework for building blockchain applications, Exonum.

In a statement, Bitfury CEO Valery Vavilov underscored that the joint venture will aim to combat fragmentation in existing financial services via the creation of interoperable systems.

As reported, Bitfury has recently been valued at $1 billion and last month released a dedicated bitcoin mining fund for institutional investors in partnership with Swiss investment firm Final Frontier, in which it holds a minority stake.

Earlier this month, a senior executive at Singapore’s Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd. — one of Asia’s biggest bankssaid the $9 trillion trade finance industry urgently needs digital innovation in order to mitigate existing fraud risks.

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