Legal entity launched to digitalize the international grain trade

By Aerin Curtis and Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Legal entity launched to digitalize the global grain trade

Related tags blockchain Cargill Louis Dreyfus Bunge Brazil

Covantis, a technology company focused on digitizing international trade, says it has received regulatory approvals and has launched as a legal entity, based in Geneva, Switzerland.

The focus now is on the preparation of the 2020 release of the new platform, it added.

The company is co-owned by its founding members: ADM, Bunge, Cargill, COFCO, Louis Dreyfus Company and Glencore Agriculture. It is aiming to making global trade simple, secure, and efficient, to bring efficiencies and cost savings to companies throughout the international supply chain.     

We needed Covantis to be an independent entity to serve the industry independently of our founders. It is also a regulatory requirement to ensure trust, data privacy and protection,”​ a spokesperson for the company told FeedNavigator.

Petya Sechanova has been named as Covantis CEO. She has over 20 years of experience in multinational companies, including 11 years with Cargill, most recently as trade operations leader. 

A board of directors consisting of one member from each of the six co-founders will oversee the company and help to guide its evolution, said Covantis. The Board will be chaired by one of the directors and will rotate annually. The LDC appointed director is the chair for the first 12 months.

In terms of the role the company wants to play in the grain and oilseed industry as it develops and expands, the spokesperson said:

“We hope that every player involved in the industry will join the platform and that together we can streamline the process, modernize and digitalize it.

“We are starting by digitalizing the core processes involved in the international shipment of grains and oilseeds in bulk such as vessel nominations and substitutions as well as any other contractual notices, string visibility, documents by-pass and circles settlement, appointment of third-party providers, documentary instructions, issuance of drafts and original shipping documents - all enabled through a common communication and notifications platform.

“In the future, we envision expanding to further functionalities, enabling modernization of the entire execution process from A to Z such as contract management, settlement, bank presentation, electronic documents. We foresee expansion into more commodities. Some of those will be achieved through partnering with complementary platforms and systems.”

Commenting on the need to streamline such processes, the Covantis representative told us:

“We experience a lot of time lost and inefficiencies in the way we conduct our business at the moment, there are also a lot of manual errors and subsequently re-work. This platform is created for the industry by the industry. The platform aims to help people work in a more efficient and accurate way, to reduce the time spent in exchanging e-mails, repeating information, filing, … and allow people to focus on solving complex logistics issues thus adding value to our customers.”

The platform will be launched in the coming months.

Earlier this year, the initiative announced the selection of ConsenSys, an Ethereum blockchain technology company, as the lead technology partner to develop its set of digital solutions. Convantis said ConsenSys will leverage its enterprise-ready blockchain products and services, including, Codify, PegaSys Orchestrate, Kaleido, and MythX to build the blockchain network on Ethereum.

“With the current situation [COVID-19 outbreak], we see an even stronger need for our platform, efficiency and visibility is critical to our business operations, especially in times like this.

“We are currently doing the first testing with users from the founding companies. We hope to start testing with other market participants soon and then launch…  in the in the second half of the year, but it really depends on how the situation with the pandemic crisis develops.”

It will be an English language platform to begin with.

“We will reassess the need to add additional languages based on the market feedback and the requirements of the participating companies. Any type of grains and oilseeds shipments internationally traded can be executed through the platform.

“We will be starting with shipments of beans and corn from Brazil, port of Santos. We then plan to roll-out and enable the launch of various ports and further grains and oilseeds commodities exported from Brazil before moving on to other origins. In 2021, we will focus on shipments from US, and, at the same time, develop new functionalities and plan our expansion roadmap in term of commodities and origins.”

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