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UAE Trade Connect (UTC), a new nationwide blockchain platform co-created by Etisalat Digital and seven leading UAE banks and Avanza Innovations is commercially live.

This unique platform, initially ideated by First Abu Dhabi Bank, invites all UAE banks and the supply chain industry to join the platform to combat fraud and duplication, among other issues in the trade finance space.

The commercial launch took place at a virtual press conference in the presence of senior management from UTC and partnering banks.

The steering committee for the platform consists of the Central Bank of the UAE and seven leading banks namely Commercial Bank International (CBI), Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD), Emirates NBD, First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), Mashreq Bank, National Bank of Fujairah (NBF), and RAKBANK.

Commenting on the launch, Dr. Sabri Al Azazi, chief operating officer at the Central Bank of the UAE, said, “The Central Bank promotes financial and monetary stability, efficiency and resilience in the financial system. The launch of the UTC Digital Trade Platform is one of the key steps towards achieving this goal as it will help to minimize the risks of fraud inherent in the existing paper-based system in trade finance. It also reflects the banking sector's commitment to step up the digital transformation process to prepare the UAE to enter into the new digital banking era.“

"The new platform will enhance international collaboration and innovation, and produce fruitful results for the trade finance industry globally,” he added.

Meanwhile, Zulqarnain Javaid, CEO, UTC said, “Today’s announcement is a milestone moment in the financial sector in UAE. Technological advancements are presenting innovative solutions to historic problems and enabling the sector to power forward. The solution is aligned with the UAE government’s vision to bring futuristic technologies like blockchain and will be yet another enabler for economic growth”.

According to the steering committee, the UTC has created a platform to find duplicates and close-matches of trade invoices, from within millions of invoices being handled by UAE banks. By de-risking trade financing it is envisaged that SME’s will have improved access to funding for trade and supply chain related finance.”

The platform is based on blockchain and other disruptive technologies enabling data to be shared in a secure manner. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) read invoices to identify duplications, frauds and dubious transactions within the banking trade finance offering.

The initial phase will focus on addressing the risks of double-financing and invoice fraud before turning to other key areas of trade finance, such as digitalizing bills of lading and e-invoices. UTC is aimed at driving digital transformation of trade in the UAE by enabling banks, enterprises and government authorities to collectively benefit from future technologies.

Etisalat Digital, along with the seven banks, has formed a working group to further develop and extend the solution to other areas of trade. This nationwide platform, which is open for all UAE banks to join, will safeguard banks from potential fraud losses through advanced detection tools, allowing them to extend additional financing to their corporate and SME clients.

The platform has also won the ‘Fintech Partnership of the Year’ award at Fintech Abu Dhabi Awards organised by Abu Dhabi Global Market and the Central Bank of the UAE last year.

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