ING, Society Generale and Louis Dreyfuss put soybean on the blockchain - the technology's first agriculuture commodity trade

Lynsey Barber
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Putting beans on the blockchain (and other agricultural commodities) could cut business costs (Source: Getty)

ING, Societe Generale and ABN Amro are among a group of institutions to complete a sale of 60,000 tonnes of soybean between the US and China using blockchain - the first such trade involving an agricultural commodity and the technology.

It took place between Louis Dreyfus Co and Shandong Bohi Industry and was facilitated by the banks, streamlining paperwork such as sales contracts, letters of credit and certificates. It also involved Russell Marine Group, Blue Water Shipping and the US department of agriculture.

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“Distributed ledger technologies have been evolving rapidly, bringing more efficiency and security to our transactions, and immense expected benefits for our customers and everyone along the supply chain as a result," said Louis Dreyfuss chief executive Gonzalo Ramírez Martiarena.

The platform, known as Easy Trading Connect (ETC) and a joint project between ING and SocGen, has also been used for a trial of energy trading involving Shell and BP.

Blockchain's distributed ledger technology (DLT) underpins bitcoin but has much wider applications beyond cryptocurrencies.

Read more: Shell just made its first investment in a blockchain startup

High profile banks and businesses around the world are working on blockchain pilots. Trade finance and supply chains have been a major focus. Many believe blockchain has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of paperwork involved in the former - and thus costs - while it can be used for tracking provenance of products in the case of the latter.

Meanwhile, Total and Gazprom are among a handful of new companies joining a seperate blockchain pilot for energy trading. They join BP and Eni in testing BTL's interbit platform for reconciliation and settlement of trades.

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