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Singapore startup partners IBM to pilot blockchain technology

Invictus’ distributed ledger prototype will offer financing options for small and medium-sized enterprises

Singapore financial technology startup Invictus is tapping IBM’s blockchain technology and Bluemix cloud services to provide small companies with financing options from banks and other financial service providers.

As part of its collaboration with IBM, Invictus, which offers an e-procurement platform, will design a distributed ledger prototype that manages transactions between small and medium enterprises, suppliers, banks and other liquidity providers.

The prototype will be based on Hyperledger, an open-source project spearheaded by the Linux Foundation to drive advancements in blockchain, a peer-to-peer ledger that works with smart contracts and other technologies to facilitate transactions and business processes.

“Invictus offers more than an e-procurement platform,” said Invictus chairman Lim Soon Hock. “We focus on taking the chronic pain out of the last mile of a transaction by expanding access to financing”.

“Through our blockchain smart contract technologies and working collaboratively with IBM, we hope to disrupt this last mile by enabling secure and cashless financing as early as the PO [purchase order] stage,” he said.

Jeffrey Lam, Invictus’ chief operating officer and vice-president of sales, said working with IBM has been an “eye-opening experience in showing us how companies can benefit from technologies such as blockchain which has the capabilities to improve operational efficiency and reduce transaction risks”.

IBM’s blockchain technology is available to developers through its Bluemix cloud service, which hosts 120,000 new apps each month. Other tools and services available on Bluemix include big data, mobile, cognitive computing, analytics, security and internet of things.

Alan Lim, practice lead for IBM Blockchain and Bluemix Garage in ASEAN, said blockchain technology presents opportunities for disruptive innovation, enabling businesses to transact with less friction and more trust.

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Prior to Invictus, IBM has also worked with other startups, such as Singapore’s Freshturf, on blockchain-related projects.

“We are helping Freshturf to create a network of storage lockers for shipping and parcel delivery throughout Singapore, aimed at improving the ‘last mile’ of delivery services for consumers and businesses,” Lim told Computer Weekly.

“The application of blockchain technology helps to provide visibility across the fulfilment chain, allowing users to track their parcel and delivery status from the convenience of their phone, and stakeholders to conduct shipping transactions in a highly secure and trusted environment,” he added.

Besides startups, Lim said IBM is also working with large enterprises to make blockchain real for their business.

“For example, in Thailand, we are working with one of Thailand’s largest banks, Kasikornbank, to build a new blockchain network designed to help simplify procedures for the bank's corporate credit business.

“Using Bluemix, the bank will create the foundation for a blockchain business network which will allow credit requestors, credit beneficiaries and Kasikornbank to fast-track traditionally lengthy procedures such as letters of guarantee for clients,” he said.

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