Owing to ongoing financial difficulties, the IBM Hyperledger-powered trade finance blockchain platform we.trade is laying off almost half of its workforce.

According to a Global Trade Review report, “more than a dozen employees” were laid off and most of them belonged to the commercial and product-focused verticals of the company.

We.trade was jointly owned and funded by 12 influential banks and financial institutions such as Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Rabobank, Santander and Société Générale. Less than a month ago, IBM bought a 7% stake in the company, which, we.trade said, would help it scale its business globally.

We.trade has had quite a few achievements in bringing banks to use blockchain technology, as was reported by Cointelegraph. In August 2019, HSBC became the first bank to settle a transaction via Hyperledger on the we.trade platform. Earlier this year, a major Spanish bank CaixaBank also started providing we.trade platform’s service to its 15.8 million customers to make transactions more traceable and secure.

Living through the crisis

According to Global Trade Review, we.trade’s financial woes began after their last round’s fundings fell short of the expected amount as many shareholder banks withdrew their interest to reinvest in the company.

We.trade is now looking for alternative investments from other shareholders and licensees as it continues operation with a reduced workforce. The head of commercialization at we.trade, David McLoughlin, explained:

“As an early-stage company, it is critical that we remain agile and manage our resource needs as effectively as possible – in order to ensure the continued resilience of the company.”

Highlighting the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on potential investments, McLoughlin said that the pandemic, rather than clogging business activities, has actually catalyzed it. The “digitization of trade and trade finance is now no longer a luxury, but a must,” he added.

We.trade did not respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.