Dubai's government has launched an initiative to test blockchain technology for trade finance in partnership with IBM.

Banks based in the emirate are participating as letter of credit (L/C) providers in the initiative.

Leadership and L/Cs

Dubai Trade, an electronic trade services hub operated by the government, is spearheading the initiative, supported by its IT provider, Dutech. Dubai Customs is also participating.

Emirates NBD Bank is the L/C issuing bank while Banco Santander is the L/C advising bank.

Other participants

Several private companies are involved. These include du, a UAE-based telecommunications service provider that is conveying data from the 'internet of things'.

Aramex is the freight forwarder while a yet unnamed airline is the freight carrier.

Blockchain ambitionsUsing Hyperledger Fabric and IBM Cloud, the blockchain application transmits real-time data allowing participants to the transaction to receive up-to-the-minute information about the state of goods and the status of the shipment.

Hyperledger is an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies.

In February 2016, the Dubai government established a Global Blockchain Council, with the ambitious plan of executing all its transactions on blockchain by 2020.

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