Japan’s second-largest bank by assets, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), has completed a proof-of-concept (PoC) using blockchain consortium R3’s Marco Polo trade finance platform. A press release confirmed the PoC completion on Feb. 18.

SMBC, which is the only Japanese bank participating in Marco Polo, said it had partnered with Japanese multinational Mitsui & Co. to enhance efficiency in trade processes.

“[The] PoC was conducted between SMBC and Mitsui & Co. which aims to improve productivity in its trade operations, by testing modules such as Receivable Finance and Payment Commitment (Payment Undertaking),” the release explained, adding:

“SMBC expects to commercialize Marco Polo in the first half of (the financial year 2019) after verification of the PoC.”

Launched in 2017, Marco Polo is a joint venture between R3 and Irish tech firm TradeIX targeting trade finance utility using distributed ledger technology.

Leveraging R3’s Corda technology, a total of 15 consortium member banks are currently participating in the Marco Polo consortium, including ING, NatWest and BNP Paribas.

In May last year, Thailand’s biggest bank, Bangkok Bank, also joined the initiative with an eye to streamlining trade finance.

R3 is a New York-based group of businesses, banks and other entities founded in 2014 as a distributed technology company. At its launch in September 2015, it had a total of nine members. This January, R3 announced the launch of its Corda Network, with the consortium now made up of over 300 members.