The RWA solution to a surging $50 billion industry

Engaging with XDC provides access to cutting-edge financial tools and places investors at the forefront of the trade finance revolution


Iurii Motov/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks


$87.81 billion. 

That’s how large the global trade finance market is projected to grow by 2031—nearly double its 2022 valuation. 

Despite its exciting growth projections, trade finance is expensive, opaque, and boring. But bring the market and its financial instruments on-chain, and suddenly we have something worth discussing alongside other topics vital to anyone passionate about the future of finance.

To ensure you’re well-versed in this subtopic of RWAs — one of the sexiest, most discussed crypto sectors among Web3-natives and TradFi institutions like BlackRock alike — this comprehensive investor’s guide will explore the growing trade finance RWA niche, show how blockchain integration serves as the best medicine for the problems trade finance faces, and explain how optimized blockchains like XDC Network offer industry-leading opportunities.

Overview of Trade Finance & Real World Assets (RWAs)

Let’s be clear: while most industries function well today without moving to blockchain tech, and stand to gain only marginally by transitioning, the trade finance opportunity is a different story. 

Today, the banks, financiers, and secondary markets all run their own ledgers for goods they buy and sell. But absolutely nothing is harmonized—there’s tremendous potential to bring this all together into a single source of truth.

“Deloitte has re-imagined how trade finance can operate leveraging a Blockchain-based infrastructure to drive efficiencies, reduce cost base and open up new revenue opportunities, like newer models of credit and funding guarantees backing the trade.”

– Deloitte, How Blockchain Can Reshape Trade Finance

Picture heterogeneous participants and data, short-dated transactions, liquidating instruments, etc. all using an immutable ledger to record transactions and create transparency. It’s not just about RWAs; blockchain ledgers themselves will make a massive impact on trade finance as well. 

Given the enormous potential of bringing trade finance on-chain, it’s quite clear that trade finance isn’t just a small facet of the RWA movement—it is the niche that will drive significant adoption to the sector and blockchain as a whole. 

Trade Finance: Definition and Importance

Trade finance represents the financial instruments and products that facilitate international trade and commerce. 

Essential for managing the risks associated with global business, such as currency fluctuations, political instability, and the creditworthiness of parties, trade finance ensures that transactions proceed smoothly and reliably. 

Its role is pivotal in enabling companies, especially those in developing countries, to access the global market, enhancing their growth and contributing to economic development.

Key Instruments of Trade Finance

Several key financial instruments underpin trade finance:

  • Letters of Credit (LCs): Banks guarantee payment on behalf of buyers, provided that sellers meet specified terms.
  • Trade Credit Insurance: Protects exporters from the risk of non-payment by overseas buyers.
  • Factoring: Involves selling accounts receivables at a discount to improve cash flow.
  • Export Credits: Provides financing to overseas buyers to purchase goods and services.
  • Bank Guarantees: Ensures a buyer’s financial obligations are met, safeguarding the seller.

Challenges in Trade Finance

Despite its critical role, the trade finance sector faces numerous challenges:

  • Lack of Transparency and Trust: Difficulty in verifying the authenticity of transactions and the reliability of involved parties.
  • Investor Access: The secondary trade finance market has long been inaccessible to the broader investment classes, hampering the growth of the trade finance industry.
  • Fraud: High susceptibility to fraudulent activities, impacting all stakeholders.
  • Slow and Inefficient Processes: Traditional methods rely heavily on paper, leading to delays and errors.
  • High Costs: Managing and financing international trade is expensive, often due to complex processes and regulatory requirements.

RWAs: Definition and Overview

Real World Assets (RWAs) are physical or tangible assets that have been tokenized on a blockchain. These assets provide a bridge between traditional financial systems and the burgeoning world of decentralized finance (DeFi), offering tangible backing or value to digital transactions. 

RWAs relevant to trade finance include:

  • Tokenized Commodities: Digital tokens representing ownership or value in physical commodities like oil, gold, or agricultural products.
  • Invoice Financing: Utilizing blockchain to tokenize invoices, allowing businesses to unlock liquidity by selling their outstanding invoices at a discount to investors.
  • Supply Chain Tokens: Tokens that represent and track goods through the supply chain, enhancing transparency and reducing fraud.

By incorporating RWAs into trade finance, the sector can address many of its inherent challenges, offering a more transparent, efficient, and secure environment for all participants. This evolution is part of what makes the integration of RWAs into trade finance not just innovative but potentially revolutionary.

For a deeper dive into RWAs, you can refer to a detailed explanation in our guide.

How RWAs Can Address Trade Finance Challenges

The traditional trade finance landscape, as described earlier, grapples with issues like opacity, fraud, inefficiency, and high operational costs. 

RWAs offer promising solutions to these perennial problems, harnessing the inherent benefits of blockchain to revolutionize trade finance.

Enhanced Efficiency and Speed

One of the most compelling advantages of incorporating RWAs into trade finance is the drastic improvement in the efficiency and speed of transactions. Blockchain technology minimizes the need for manual processing and reduces the dependency on intermediaries (e.g. couriers) who traditionally slow down the trading process. 

With RWAs, assets like invoices, commodities, or even payroll can be programmed directly into tokens. This programming allows the automatic triggering of payments or transactions under specific conditions, without the need for manual intervention, thus speeding up the entire process significantly.

Greater Investor Access

Tokenization will provide more open access to trade finance assets that have been inaccessible to most investors in the secondary market. In theory, this factor, along with the projected growth of trade finance, will open the floodgates for significant, much-needed capital coming on-chain and help stimulate the global on-chain economy.

Reduced Costs

Blockchain’s ability to streamline processes naturally leads to a reduction in transaction costs. The removal of middlemen and the decreased necessity for extensive paper trails and manual checks means that the costs traditionally associated with trade finance can be significantly lowered. This reduction not only makes trade finance more accessible but also more attractive to a broader range of market participants.

Improved Transparency

The transparency of blockchain is another significant benefit when applied to trade finance. Each transaction involving RWAs is recorded on an immutable ledger, visible to all parties involved. This transparency ensures that all transactions can be tracked and verified, reducing the opportunities for fraud and disputes. This clear, auditable trail is crucial in building trust among participants, especially in an environment historically plagued by opacity.

Security Improvements

Finally, the security features of blockchain technology are inherently superior to many traditional financial systems. Through the use of encryption and decentralized consensus mechanisms, blockchain enhances the integrity and security of financial transactions. Each transaction is securely recorded and must be agreed upon by consensus, preventing unauthorized changes or hacks. This security is especially pertinent in trade finance, where the stakes are high and the potential for fraud is significant.

By addressing these critical challenges through the integration of RWAs, blockchain is setting the stage for a more robust, efficient, and secure framework in trade finance. This technological shift not only resolves many of the existing issues but also opens up new avenues for innovation and growth within the sector.

Future opportunities in trade finance RWAs

The fusion of trade finance and RWAs not only enhances current financial systems but also pioneers new opportunities in DeFi, ultimately contributing to the proliferation of on-chain economies.

The Growing Impact of Tokenization

Tokenization, the process of converting real-world assets into digital tokens on a blockchain, is forecasted to be a major economic force, with a potential market worth estimated at $24 trillion by 2027

This staggering figure reflects the significant interest from financial institutions eager to capitalize on the benefits of blockchain technology, such as round-the-clock trading, capability for smaller transaction sizes, improved liquidity, and reduced overhead costs.

“The digital asset space is going to impact all industries, including fine art and gold. Tokenization is going to enable investment products to be created, and for money to move more easily, increasing financial inclusion.”

André Casterman, Founder and Managing Director of Casterman Advisory

Addressing DeFi Yield Challenges

Current DeFi yield mechanisms have their limitations, often being restrictive as they are paid out in native assets only. RWAs provide a promising solution by offering more stable yields on tokenized real-world assets, which can attract traditional funds on-chain and stimulate DeFi ecosystems with more stable, diverse earning opportunities. 

This approach not only broadens the appeal of DeFi but also mitigates some of the volatility and risk associated with traditional cryptocurrency investments.

XDC Network: A Leader in Blockchain for Trade Finance

At the forefront of this revolution is XDC Network, an enterprise-grade, open-source blockchain protocol that is EVM-compatible and supports smart contracts. 

“The XDC Network has a proven track record for its performance and security and is the premium blockchain choice for trade finance asset activity.” – Christoph Gugelmann, CEO and Co-Founder at Tradeteq

XDC Network is particularly well-suited for revolutionizing the trade finance sector through its efficient handling of RWAs. Its platform offers a robust enterprise-friendly infrastructure for tokenizing and trading real-world financial instruments and commodities, making it a pivotal player in the industry with the power to drive new funds to bridge on-chain from traditional finance.

Deep integration with global TradFi leaders

Launched in 2017, Securitize was the world’s first fully digital securities issuance platform. It has grown into a giant, being named to Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2024 and now boasting a $47 million strategic funding round led by Blackrock and over $800 million in on-chain funds; without question, Securitize is a global leader in RWA tokenization.

Today, XDC is one of only four RWA chains integrated into the issuance platform, having notably been used by Tradeteq, the leading provider of data, technology, and software to the trade finance and private credit industry, to launch a U.S. treasury bond token through the Securitize platform. 

Other notable XDC milestones in trade finance include, but are not limited to:

XDC Network recently celebrated five years of live mainnet. You can learn more about its many milestones here.

Tokenization in Action

The XDC Network has quickly established a robust presence in the trade finance industry, recognized for delivering scalable, efficient, and affordable settlement rails for a variety of tokenized assets. It tackles industry challenges such as cross-border inefficiencies, regulatory complexities, and access issues for SMEs by providing a trustless, cost-effective ledger to facilitate transparent transactions and exchange of information.

“XDC integration is the next leg in our mission to enable every business to easily and securely support digital assets and cryptocurrencies.”

Michael Shaulov, CEO at Fireblocks

The rise of RWA tokenization on the XDC Network underscores its pivotal role in digital asset management and trade finance:

  • ComTech Gold’s Physical Gold-Backed Token (CGO): Standardized digital gold, backed by 100% physical gold on the XDC Network, offers a Shariah-compliant, secure, and transparent method for trading gold digitally.
  • Stasis Euro Token (EURS): By mirroring the Euro on the blockchain, EURS provides a stable, digital counterpart to the Euro, facilitating seamless cross-border transactions and reducing currency exchange complexities.
  • U.S. Treasury Securities Tokenization by Yieldteq: This initiative uses the XDC Network to bridge traditional financial instruments with decentralized finance, offering tokenized access to an ETF that tracks U.S. government bonds with compliance to securities regulations.

Capitalizing on Momentum

With so much momentum behind RWAs in trade finance, engaging with leading blockchain ecosystems like XDC Network can be significantly advantageous for businesses and investors. By participating in these innovative platforms, stakeholders can position themselves at the cutting edge of financial technology and benefit from the myriad opportunities that RWAs offer.

The integration of RWAs with blockchain technology is revolutionizing trade finance, offering faster, more cost-effective, and transparent transactions. With the industry projected to grow to $87.81 billion by 2031, trailblazers like XDC Network have an opportunity to lead this dynamic sector.

For accredited investors seeking to capitalize on innovative financial solutions, the RWA products on XDC Network offer a vibrant ecosystem to explore. Here, investors can assess and engage with various opportunities to earn yield, such as the USTY tokens, within a secure and transparent environment.

Engaging with XDC not only provides access to cutting-edge financial tools but also places investors at the forefront of the trade finance revolution.

This content is sponsored by XDC and does not serve as an endorsement by Blockworks. The veracity of this content has not been verified and should not serve as financial advice. We encourage readers to conduct their own research before making financial decisions.  

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