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A&O advises on breakthrough blockchain commodity trading platform Forcefield

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Samengo-Turner William
William Samengo-Turner



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Ho Victor
Victor Ho

Managing Partner, Beijing/Shanghai


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17 May 2019

Allen & Overy is advising on the development of the pioneering blockchain-based, multi-jurisdictional commodity trade and finance platform known as Forcefield, which is being launched by a consortium comprised of Accenture, ABN Amro, Anglo American, CMST International, Hartree Partners, ING Bank, Mercuria and OCBC Bank amongst others.  

Digital Blue

Forcefield is a digital platform which manages commodities throughout the entire supply chain life-cycle by implementing blockchain, internet-of-things (IoT) sensors and near-field communication (NFC) chips. The system enhances security of title and the efficiency of related processes to reduce both risks and costs of handling physical inventory. It is designed to facilitate not only trade in physical commodities but also financing.

The A&O team comprises over 45 lawyers from more than 12 offices around the world, drawing on Fintech expertise across Banking, Corporate/M&A, Regulatory, Litigation, IP, IT and Antitrust.

The team is led by Corporate partner Victor Ho in relation to corporate and technology matters, working with counsel Ben Crawford in Beijing, together with London partner Will Samengo-Turner and Paris counsel Tom Longmuir. Banking partners Adrian Mellor in Paris, Niels de Ru in Amsterdam and Prakash Segaran and Barry Irwin in Singapore are advising in relation to financing and commodity trading matters on the platform. Partner David Por in Paris is leading on IP strategy, working with associate Cyril Riffaud.  Litigation partner Anthony Mansfield in Washington D.C. is advising on compliance and regulatory matters. 

Commenting on the launch, Tom Longmuir said: “Forcefield is a commodity trading first, and is intended to mitigate systemic industry risks of the kind suffered in Qingdao through innovation. It will do this by implementing a blockchain-based title and traceability concept in relation to physical supply, moving trading and financing away from paper-based to electronic systems.”

Will Samengo-Turner stated: “Key to the offering from a legal perspective was A&O’s ability to mobilise experts across all relevant disciplines and jurisdictions, and present a fully integrated service offering. In an unprecedented transaction, no other firm could match this strength in depth – in particular that of our combined Technology, Trade & Commodity Finance and FinTech practices.”

Victor Ho added: “The development of Forcefield is further evidence of the evolution of the global commodities industry, and the cornerstone role China plays in that market. As industry participants collaborate to accelerate innovation, A&O’s global platform allowed us to play a key contributory role with multi-jurisdictional legal issues playing an important part in the architecture of the platform.”

The consortium developing Forcefield is made up of the full spectrum of commodity industry participants, from global trading houses through to banks, warehouses and settlement systems.

Forcefield uses traceability as a sustainable sourcing tool to help the supply chain monitor provenance and attestations throughout the product life-cycle. The Forcefield system will initially focus on refined metals but functionality will be expanded across other dry bulk commodities.

For further information, please contact Elizabeth Randall, on +44 (0)20 3088 2989.