We.trade's new boss plans to expand the blockchain banking consortium's Dublin HQ

The platform led by several European banks will be revising its pricing strategy and plotting a global reach.

By Jonathan Keane Reporter, Fora

WE.TRADE, THE DUBLIN-BASED blockchain banking consortium, has plans to rejig the pricing model of its platform and open it up to smaller businesses, according to its new boss.

The consortium, led by 12 shareholder European banks including HSBC and Deutsche Bank, develops a blockchain trade platform that’s offered by the banks to complete cross-border trades between businesses and suppliers.

New general manager Ciaran McGowan took over the reins of the business last month after predecessor Roberto Mancone, who led its establishment in Dublin last year, departed.

In the last 12 months, the platform, which is built using the Hyperledger Fabric software, has rolled the service out in more banks for their clients, most recently with Scandinavia’s Nordea.

McGowan, whose background includes technical roles at banks like AIB and KBC, is now tasked with expanding that remit.

He said We.trade has been pooling feedback from small- and medium-sized enterprises on how to improve the platform.

“As a result of that, we’re effectively writing a renewed business plan to show the scale of the company over the next five years,” McGowan said.

“What was built initially was very much a closed system between the banks and the SMEs whereas what we need to architect and deliver is a more open system where we can connect through every part of the value chain.”

Part of this will involve diversifying the revenue model. Currently banks pay a set licensing fee that’s “one size fits all” to use the platform.

“I think we certainly have to look at the pricing,” McGowan said.

“We’re going to change that to tiered pricing based on the size of the bank and the volume of SMEs that they have,” he said, adding that transaction fees of some kind will factor into this revised plan as well.

The strategy will play out over the next 12 months.

“This year it’s very much maximise the existing platform, get as much user feedback as we can from the existing clients who run it and use that to help us re-architect and effectively deliver that revised strategy.”

Global reach

The consortium has had a very European focus – largely a result of its European banking partners – but this diversifying of the business will see it reaching into more global markets and seeking banks outside of Europe to join up.

Along with the 12 shareholder banks, We.trade has two more licensee banks using the software. McGowan has set a target of reaching 40 banks.

No Irish banks are involved with We.trade but he said it would welcome their involvement.

“I think there might be a question of (that) they’d like to see larger volumes on the platform before they get involved but I do think that will happen in time.”

Some Irish banks, particularly AIB, have been tinkering with blockchain on processes like anti-money laundering and verifying staff credentials.

Currently We.trade’s base has a small team of 10, with roles like product owners and in enterprise architecture, that support the platform with some help from the banks. It plans to grow that team to 30 and bring more development skills in-house.

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