Banks-owned blockchain trade finance startup We.trade cuts 50% of its staff

We.trade, the blockchain-based trade finance startup jointly owned by 12 European banks, has reportedly laid off around 50% of its staff, representing more than 12 employees.

Global Trade Review (GTR) reported the news on Wednesday, citing “several sources familiar with the situation.” David McLoughlin, head of commercialization at We.trade, confirmed layoffs, without disclosing a specific number.

He told The Block: “Our resourcing requirements change over time and we have recently reduced a number of roles in the technical and product areas.”

We.trade is said to have struggled to get funding from several of its member banks and one external investor – trade credit insurance company Euler Hermes.

Euler Hermes was set to invest €2-3 million (~$2.50-$3.35 million) in We.trade, but that deal reportedly didn’t take off. We.trade did raise funds from some shareholder banks during this year, but that capital was not sufficient and many banks opted not to reinvest in the startup, per the GTR report.

McLoughlin told GTR: “We have been very pleased with the recent re-investment by many of our existing shareholders.” We.trade’s 12 founding banks are CaixaBank, Deutsche Bank, Erste Group, HSBC, KBC, Nordea, Rabobank, Santander, Societe Generale, UBS and UniCredit. Last month, IBM also joined We.trade as a new shareholder.

We.trade is based on IBM’s blockchain platform and uses the Hyperledger Fabric framework from the Linux Foundation. It helps businesses to reduce the friction involved in cross-border trade operations.

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