Eximchain’s Hope Liu: Improving supply chain processes with blockchain tech

“As a woman there is a lot of intimidation that I am exposed to and greed in the market. These experiences have really prepared me for the future to deliver a global blockchain solution”

Coin Rivet: Tell us about yourself.

Hope Liu: I am Co-founder and CEO of Eximchain. I was born in Tianjin, China, and I was the first in my family to apply to university. When I was 18, I took the national college examination or “Gao Kao,” earning a spot at Peking University.

At Peking University, I majored in Korean. After graduating in 2008, I received an offer from UBS to work as a trainee and spent the next six years there, working my way up to the position of authorised officer.

My primary focus was facilitating cross-border transactions, including overseeing offshore teams and managing settlement across 14 countries. Through this experience, I saw how inefficient global banking processes are and decided to pursue an MBA at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to look for a more efficient way to process transactions.

While there, I learned about blockchain and shifted my focus, seeing the opportunity for blockchain technology to be used to improve supply chain processes.

In 2015, I began working on Eximchain with Can Kisagun. The project received accolades from the Rice Business Plan Competition, the Legatum Seed Grant, the Plug and Play Fintech Accelerator, and MIT among others. In June 2017, I graduated from MIT and began working on Eximchain full-time. 

Coin Rivet: What lead you to co-found Eximchain and what are the main supply chain challenges you’re addressing?

HL: Back in 2015, we were trying to explain how peer-to-peer networks cryptography could change the traditional global supply chain business. Supply chain is an old-fashioned business. It takes so much paperwork to conduct a single global trade and it is difficult to change minds and proven processes. People have been doing business in the same way for 20 years. So it was really hard to convince people to change.

Blockchain is still developing both for private and public uses. Eximchain’s public blockchain uses private smart contracts so transaction data and trade secrets are encrypted, secure, and kept from competitors. The platform is user-friendly, allowing businesses and enterprises to seamlessly integrate our solutions into existing business processes and applications.

We founded Eximchain and made its mission to become the leading blockchain infrastructure for supply chain applications, to fill in the gap of over $5.2 trillion lost in potential revenue each year, because of the lack of transparency, connectivity, and agility in the global supply chain. In using Eximchain, enterprises can eliminate traditional supply chain barriers and integrates actors big and small into an efficient, transparent, and secure global network.

Coin Rivet: What have been the highlights thus far?

HL: When I started exploring the blockchain space and tried to fundraise, I was dealing with professional institutional players in the tech space. As time went on, business opportunities and exposures changed.

There has been a lot of travel for me; I have been living out of two suitcases for the past year, traveling across the world raising awareness for our company as a woman entrepreneur. It has been a challenge at times; as a woman there is a lot of intimidation that I am exposed to and greed in the market. These experiences have really prepared me for the future to deliver a global blockchain solution.

Right now, the number of successful live roll-outs of blockchain are small and there are several reasons for this. One reason is not getting expectations right. Many enterprises take on blockchain technology but fail to find develop a business case for it in the end

Coin Rivet: There are lots of companies right now saying they can bring the global supply chain industry on the blockchain and solve various issues etc in the process. What makes Eximchain stand out from the crowd?

HL: Blockchain plays an important role in creating transparency in business and transactions. Eximchain uses blockchain technology to digitise and decentralise business processes that have traditionally relied on intermediaries such as brokers and banks. Blockchain enables our applications to create decentralised ledgers, reduce transaction costs, and securely share information and value in real-time.

We stand out as a variety of supply chain solutions can be built on Eximchain blockchain:

Sourcing – Eximchain smart contracts securely record historical data and transactions allowing suppliers to prove their reliability to buyers and rating institutions.

Supply chain finance – Our smart contracts allow financiers to verify the validity of orders placed with all upstream partners and suppliers and provide the necessary financing.

Inventory management – Eximchain tools enable stakeholders to seamlessly track demand and inventory information across a common ledger.

Eximchain SDK  – This enables companies to quickly build customised, end-to-end, supply chain applications with data privacy.

Coin Rivet: Eximchain’s mainnet launch was broadcasted to a global audience live from Singapore and US. What was the thinking behind this and how did it go?

HL: There is such a lack of transparency in the global supply chain industry. Our idea to livestream the launch of our mainnet was a direct response to that lack of transparency. You can’t be more transparent than a live broadcast!

That transparency, connectivity and agility are all huge problems in the global supply chain. And with global trade increasing at a tremendous rate, boosted by e-commerce in Asia Pacific, supply chain players around the world are looking at technology to help them reduce costs and be more efficient in their processes.

The launch of our mainnet also marks a significant business milestone, validating our team’s combined toil and ambition to help bring the global supply chain industry on the blockchain. So we thought we would do it big and reveal the mainnet to a live audience. We’re confident of delivering on our vision for the supply chain.

Coin Rivet: How do you respond to those who claim blockchain is all hype and no substance?

HL: I do understand how blockchain is still in its adoption phase and there are players that will take a while to embrace a new paradigm. In the same instance, there are companies that are already reaping the rewards that an agile blockchain can deliver.

And then there are companies that have tried out blockchain technology to run through a sample set of data, and are satisfied that they can adopt it when they want, but they do not follow through to launch the technology in a live production system.

So right now, the number of successful live roll-outs of blockchain are small and there are several reasons for this. The first reason is not getting expectations right. Many enterprises take on blockchain technology but fail to find develop a business case for it in the end.

Not all business processes require a blockchain. If all the parties on a network are trusted and the transactions are only happening internally, then there is no need to verify that they are accurate and reliable. A regular database or ledger works fine – and may be faster if you are processing large volumes of data.

Another stumbling block for companies is the lack of plug-ins or connectors that allow for an easy syncing up of data. While sample data can be run through easily and flawlessly on a blockchain PoC, it is another thing running a production system with all the business records that a company has built up over the years. For a company with millions of invoices, it will not be easy to bring all of them onto a blockchain in a short time. They might also not want to do so – unless the invoices bring some value to future transactions, instead of simply being references or records to be stored away.

For more businesses to embrace blockchain technology, we need tools to allow for a simpler porting over of data, and these tools are still very much in development. Until then, many companies will be happy to run a trial and say they are “blockchain ready”, when in fact, they have not tested the technology with the extensive amounts of data they have.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.

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