On October 11th, Alfa Bank made an important announcement regarding its collaboration with NLMK (Novolipetsk Steel Company), Vesuvius GmbH (global leader in molten metal engineering and technology) and Commerzbank (a leading international commercial bank having offices in more than 50 countries all over the bank), to launch a pilot project of cross border payments via Marco Polo. Marco Polo is an international trade finance network linked jointly with technology firms R3 and TradeIX, that offers a wide range of trade finance solutions internationally. It is the first-ever Russian-German collaboration for import-export finance operations for Marco Polo. Alfa- bank described itself as the largest financial institution in Russia in terms of total assets, total equity, loans, and deposits.

This cross-border pilot project aims at building end-to-end digital finance and supplying blockchain finance solutions. Improving the trade efficiencies and delivering better customer services are the main concern, which this recent collaboration is focusing on.

Marco Polo, along with some of the world’s leading banks and TradeIX, is steering the trade financial solutions using blockchain technology. The Marco Polo initiative has developed a post-shipment trade financing solution, which is powered by TradeIX and R3, to offer seamless connectivity amongst trade participants. Marco Polo also eliminates data silos that obstruct the free flow of information, thereby creating discrepancies. Marco Polo network eases out direct communication with ERP systems with the help of APIs (Application programming interfaces). It thereby allows the international trade participants to create irreversible payment obligations within a transparent system.

Anna Sokolova, the Director of NLMK, in response to this integration, said, “Our decision to take part in the pilot project was prompted by our intention to optimize the process of interaction with partners based on blockchain technology. We expect Marco Polo to ensure seamless collaboration of several sides engaged in international trade operations (banks, suppliers, insurance companies, etc.) with a flexible access to working capital financing instruments to the parties”.

Besides launching this pilot project via Marco Polo, Commerzbank is also setting records by merging with its rival Deutsche bank as per reports. Though there were huge speculations about this mega-merger, both the banks were tight-lipped about this. It was only on Sunday that both these banks came forward and acknowledged the speculations that were going on for the past few months about the merger.

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