ASB is investing in newly launched technology company TradeWindow to fast-track development of a distributed ledger technology (DLT) trade platform.
TradeWindow is digitising the international trade process so global businesses can operate more efficiently and with trust and security.
ASB Bank’s executive general manager of corporate banking, Nigel Annett, will join the company’s board after the bank took what it called "a significant stake" in the business.
TradeWindow, which began as collaboration through ASB’s innovation programme, was now a fully-fledged business ready to launch, Annett said.
A search of the Companies Office showed ASB held one share in Trade Window out of over 3 million. That share was apparently to secure Annett's seat on the board.
ASB Bank primarily invested in TradeWindow through a convertible note, designed to convert into ordinary shares in TradeWindow on the next funding round, likely to be within the next 12-18 months.
TradeWindow uses DLT to create a "single trading window" accessible by all parties involved in the transaction from the importer to the exporter. That significantly reduces the risk of fraud and cyber security threats as edits can only be made with the consensus of the majority of the network.
Last year ASB successfully piloted the TradeWindow platform, executing a trade between a Korean importer and a major Kiwi meat exporter, Greenlea Premier Meats.
TradeWindow founder and CEO AJ Smith said the company is one of the first technology companies in New Zealand to receive direct funding from a New Zealand bank.
“The bank is committed to accelerating the progress of New Zealand’s trade environment using new technology and recognises the potential our product has to streamline trading between Kiwi exporters and the rest of the world,” Smith said.
Smith said the benefits of the system were realised through cost savings and efficiencies from instantaneous sharing of documentation that currently has to be couriered at significant cost between parties such as exporters, importers, banks, certifiers and insurance companies.
TradeWindow allows all relevant documents – from certificates to invoices – to be exchanged digitally using one touchpoint.
The platform can also help exporters prevent loss from criminal activity and provide increased traceability through the supply chain.
Smith says TradeWindow is growing quickly and has secured key exclusive partnerships with two other New Zealand export-related companies, export documentation compliance company Prodoc and a division of IVS (Independent Verification Services) which assists New Zealand exporters in the forestry, timber and horticultural industries with product certifications and quality assurance.
“The addition of these companies’ services within the TradeWindow eco-system will create significant synergies in verification and documentation compliance for Kiwi producers, and significantly simplify the export process,” said Smith.
Prodoc director Steve Cox said joining forces with TradeWindow will offer competitive advantage by improving turnaround times and lifting customer service levels for demanding export partners.
Smith said the bank funding and a recent Callaghan Innovation grant will further the research and development of TradeWindow, helping ready the platform for commercialisation.
“We aim to announce the release of our first commercial version of the product very shortly,” he said.
TradeWindow was developed by VerifyUnion NZ Ltd, a distributed ledger technology (DLT) specialist which has gained ISO 9001 and 27001 accreditations.
Smith has previously founded two fintech companies both of which he successfully sold including one to a Swiss Venture Fund.