Russia’s Alfa Bank Joins HSBC Blockchain Network

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Alfa Bank, one of the largest private commercial banks in Russia, has joined a blockchain trade finance network backed by HSBC.

According to an official announcement made on Tuesday (November 3), Alfa Bank is the first Russian bank to become a member of Contour.

Contour is a blockchain platform connecting the world’s largest financial institutions such as HSBC, ING and Citi. The network allows bank customers to track the processing and modification of trade finance transactions and cut operational costs.

Evgenia Fomina, head of Alfa Bank lending, said that Contour-based pilots in the Russian market intend to improve the quality of cross-border transactions, stating: “The accession to the Contour platform and launch of the pilot projects on the Russian market will fine-tune the strategy of development of products for transborder transactions. Customer requests become more complex, and we are always seeking to offer the best solutions.”

Previously known as “Voltron,” Contour is focused on the process of drafting and issuing letters of credit using R3’s Corda blockchain. The initiative was launched in 2018 by R3 together with HSBC, ING, Citi, Bangkok Bank, BNP Paribas, Standard Chartered, SEB and CTBC.

The Contour network finally went live just last month. On November 1, the Bangladesh branch of HSBC processed the country’s first blockchain-based letter of credit transaction on Contour.

Contour CEO Carl Wegner said that Alfa Bank’s entrance to the network marks another milestone for the project. “Their involvement will continue to build an inclusive network that will improve trade across the globe,” Wegner said.

Headquartered in Moscow, Alfa Bank is no stranger to blockchain technology. The bank has been a member of major blockchain consortium R3 since 2018. In October 2019, Alfa Bank launched a pilot via R3’s Marco Polo Network to test cross-border payments between Russia and Germany and had previously launched a liquidity management service based on the enterprise blockchain Waves.

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Russia Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm has 28 offices throughout Eurasia, including China, Russia, India, and the ASEAN nations, assisting foreign investors into the Eurasian region. Please contact Maria Kotova at russia@dezshira.com for Russian investment advisory or assistance with market intelligence, legal, tax and compliance issues throughout Asia.

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