Marco Polo

What is it? 

The Marco Polo Network is the largest and fastest growing trade and working capital finance network in the world. It is a joint undertaking between technology firms TradeIX and R3, the world’s leading financial institutions, and their corporate clients.

Its mandate is to provide a dramatically improved customer experience using cutting-edge trade and working capital procedures, to enable seamless data integration and exchange between trading parties. This type of network provides the basis for revenue growth and a simultaneous reduction in costs, time and risk.

Why do we do it? 

In the era of digitalizing trade, blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) have emerged as powerful technologies promising to bring tremendous new opportunities for trade finance. Value propositions of blockchain-based solutions in this field, such as one single source of truth for all participants of a trade transaction and cost reductions due to automation, served as a clear motive for us to develop a strategic understanding of the impact of blockchain technology onto our business.

First step on this journey required joint evaluation of different blockchain-based trade finance solutions, which was done in good cooperation between RBI Blockchain Hub and Trade Finance & Transaction banking. As there are currently three sizeable international consortia targeting trade finance – Marco Polo, Voltron and We.Trade – RBI touched base with them to explore the differences between each, test them, and find out which of these consortia should be in our focus. This process helped learning that each consortium is different in their product and customer targeting as well as technical architecture and design. Marco Polo, the world’s largest and fastest growing trade finance network powered by Corda blockchain technology, turned out to be the most suitable fit for us from a strategic point of view.

Who is participating? 

As a result, RBI joined the Marco Polo Network in May 2019. Since then, RBI has been running a project with three network banks, specifically RBRU, RBBY and AVAL, where Marco Polo Network has been evaluated from business, technical and legal points of view. This has been followed by a pilot phase in which RBI has successfully conducted a pilot transaction with German S-Servicepartner and two corporate clients, namely Dr. August Wolff GmbH & Co KG and s.a.m. Pharma Handel GmbH. With that, RBI has been the first and only Austrian bank to carry out a transaction on the Marco Polo Network. With this major milestone, the MVP phase of the project has been successfully completed.

The plan for 2020 is to continue with the piloting phase as there is a clear interest from both financial institutions and corporates that are part of the network to carry out pilot transactions with RBI. By doing so, RBI will be able to build on a business case with both financial institutions and corporate clients interested to move beyond the piloting phase and to test the further product development of Marco Polo.