ASB is claiming a first with a new blockchain-based service used to organise a meat export trade deal.

The bank says Greenlea used its new "single trade window" service to process a deal with a large Korean importer.

ASB's GM Global Transaction Banking Greg Beehre said the transaction was a landmark because the blockchain-based service meant digital payment and paperwork for the deal were wrapped up in an hour - compared to the two to four days it would take to process using more traditional means.

Trade is currently paperwork-heavy, Beehre says, making it susceptible to fraud or human error.

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Greenlea boss Tony Egan says blockchain also appealed because of the technology was created to be unhackable. He notes that cybersecurity was one of the top concerns in the Herald's recent Mood of the Boardroom survey.

Egan says while Greenlea already had paperless systems, the single trade window solution meant it could move from scrabbling emails together to a single dashboard covering elements such as payment, regulatory documents and insurance, shipping and Customs paperwork.

He adds that by wrapping everything into one place, it's easier for an exporter to include and promote an export product's attributes. In Greenlea's case, that means highlight the fact its beef is pure grass-fed, and including information such as its product's farm of origin.

Blockchain was popularised as the transactional database technology that underpinned the digital currency bitcoin.

While bitcoin hype has fallen away following the crypo-currency's crash earlier this year, blockchain is gaining momentum.

Auckland University commercial law professor Alex Sims says blockchain's security and audit-friendly ability for all parties to transparently follow a series of transactions would push it into the mainstream.

Sims says blockchain will become an everyday technology that people won't think about, just as the internet is today.

Egan says it was relatively easy to get Greenlea's Korean customer onboard with blockchain.

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ASB's Greg Beehre: blockchain technology meant Greenlea's transaction with an Korean customer was wrapped up in an hour rather than the usual two to four days. Photo / Supplied.
ASB's Greg Beehre: blockchain technology meant Greenlea's transaction with an Korean customer was wrapped up in an hour rather than the usual two to four days. Photo / Supplied.

The sector is crowded with startups, some of whom are are unknown quantities. It helped to partner with a bank with profile and reputation, Egan said.

ASB's single trade window platform, developed in partnership with VerifyUnion, is still at least a few months away from being adopted for everyday use, however.

Greenlea's Korean transaction "shadowed" traditional processing for the transaction.
Egan says there's no set date for Greenlea's next blockchain deal, which he says will happen after VerifyUnion dots a few more "i"s and cross a few more "t's"

But the meat company boss says his company will use ASB's system again and he sees his company ultimately using it for all deals.

ASB's Beehre says a second single trade window transaction is in the works, this time with an air freight exporter.