In what the bank believes to be a “global first”, Westpac’s proof of concept (POC) brings together these technologies to successfully digitise key areas of inventory management, procurement and trade in a way that could transform businesses globally.

Delivered by the Westpac institutional bank trade finance team, the POC addresses key business pain points: demand and price prediction, inventory management, forecasting and tracking. It delivers a solution to optimise procurement value, and securely automates and digitises old manual procurement and payments processes.

What each emergent technology does:

  • IoT tracks stock levels and provides real time information;
  • Data analytics and AI work together to predict demand and price levels; and
  • Blockchain creates smart contracts and executes orders in a fully digital and secure fashion.

“Westpac has offered a glimpse into the future where a business can accurately predict the demand for products, optimise stock levels, identify the best time and place to buy, and fulfil the procurement and settlement in a completely digital way,” the bank said.

Westpac initiated the POC and collaborated with reinforcing steel supplier Ausreo and Infosys, a global digital transformation company. The purchase system was created on R3 Corda Blockchain technology.

Westpac customers IVE and Iluka also provided significant insights during development on how the application could apply to other industries.

Today, Westpac has released a whitepaper providing detail on how the project was created, the problems it solves and what each technology brings to the solution.

Didier Van Not, general manager and head of Westpac corporate and institutional bank, said providing customers with the ability to maximise their working capital cycles and ensure the optimal levels of funding unleashes huge potential.

“Demand forecasting and inventory management are key processes for us, and we are always looking for the next innovation to improve the way we do business. The project highlighted how linking the four technologies was applicable to us, improving decision making and building better business practices. It shows us that ‘blue sky’ is closer than we thought,” Ausreo CFO Leon Valenti said.

Infosys SVP Andrew Groth said the company is proud to be a co-creator of the POC to demonstrate how AI, data analytics, IoT and blockchain can come together to drive genuine and measurable business results.

“Working with the Westpac Institutional Bank team, we have prototyped solutions that modernised Ausreo’s supply chain and core IT systems,” he said.

“The beauty of this solution is that it is inherently scalable by design. With componentised offerings, the solution can be tailored to meet individual client needs, by implementing one or several functions at a time.”

Darren Dunkley, CFO for IVE Group, said the project demonstrates a clear pathway on how it is possible to tie together much talked about technologies for commercial outcomes.

“It is vital to stay abreast and at the forefront of any new technologies that could impact us as well as our customers. The application prototype in the Ausreo model is absolutely transferable to IVE’s inventory order process,” he said.

Tom Plant, treasury manager of Iluka Resources, said, “We are looking to harness new technology such as blockchain and machine learning to improve efficiency. Iluka will use our learnings from our involvement in this project to determine how we might use the technology in the future.”

Westpac’s Mr Van Not stressed this was a proof of concept and not something ready for market, but congratulated his trade finance team on the innovative achievement and its potential.

“This is a glimpse into a world where mundane manual tasks will be automated and machines will support better decision-making,” he said.

“Imagining a world where businesses can automate the key decision-making processes through smart technology is no longer in the realms of science fiction – it is here today.”

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