Contour, the blockchain trade finance network and one of the best known developers of digital letters of credit (L/Cs) that failed last year, (DC World News, 31 October 2023), has been acquired by Singaporean startup, Xalts.

Established in 2022, Xalts is backed by investors including Citi Ventures, the venture capital arm of Citigroup; venture capital firm Accel, which has a successful track record of investing in and supporting high-growth and successful startups, and investors with cryptocurrency interests and other fund managers.

Terms of the deal between Xalts, its investors and Contour have not be disclosed, but the acquisition price was reportedly in the high single millions and composed of cash and stock.

New vision for Contour

Two years ago, former HSBC trader Ashutosh Goel and former Meta Asia executive Supreet Kaur paired up to build Xalts, an investment management and technology firm focused on driving real-money institutional participation in the digital asset ecosystem.

"Our vision is to expand the scope of Contour's network which is trusted by banks and corporates, and build it into a rail that enables businesses to access digital solutions for trade and supply chain finance offered by banks, fintechs and technology partners," according to Xalts' founders.

Details yet to emerge

Contour's initial aim until its collapse last year was to build a new global standard for trade, hoping to remove barriers and transform trade finance products, starting with L/Cs.

It is not yet clear whether blockchain L/Cs will remain a priority, nor whether Contour's new owners will continue working with the relatively mature and high profile network of existing members.

As well as some of the world's leading banks, the network included Contour's integration and documentation partners such as Bolero, Finastra and Surecomp. Corporate partners such as Tata, Rio Tinto and SAIC have used the platform

Citi and Contour

Contour was started in 2017 by eight major banks. It was not until February 2020, that Contour announced that Citi would join its trade finance network focused on blockchain L/Cs. The financial group's investment in Contour was made via Citi Ventures.

In April 2023, Citi India completed the first blockchain enabled L/C deal on Contour for industrial manufacturer Cummins in a transaction that saw L/C processing time reduced from 5-10 days to just three hours.

Founded in 2008, Citi Ventures is based in San Francisco, California and invests in what it defines as "category-defining startups" with the potential to augment and enhance Citi's products and services.

This article represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of the ICC or Coastline Solutions.