Trade and Interoperability: A key value for Contour

For broad and diverse networks like trade, interoperability has been touted as the key to ensuring an effective digital future. And for us, it’s one of our key values.

But what do we mean when we say interoperability? We’re not just talking about the ability for networks to connect, but also the ability for participants to connect and transact seamlessly. It’s a key distinction, and one we wanted to outline.

How we do things

Here at Contour, our trade network is composed of two components:

  • A network of participants all communicating together using the same standards, technical specifications, and legal agreements; and
  • An application deployed onto that network aimed at improving a specific business process


Visually, a decentralised network like ours will look very different than a traditional centralised network.

Using Contour, no one party has a copy of all the data, and neither do we. Participants only have access to their data, and we don’t see any transactional information.

This is great for privacy and security, but when it comes to network interoperability, this causes an inherent problem: how do you connect the dots?


There are some exciting developments in this area. The Corda Network, of which Contour is a member, has created a common network map (common identities across separate business networks), a common notary (allowing a transaction to be validated between two nodes on different networks) as well as a common trust root to add finality and help allow these participants to connect. But even with the Corda Network, interoperability is not fully achieved as applications cannot work together.

To overcome this challenge, applications need to have transaction flows between them. In doing so, data will be replicated on two different networks – not only providing interoperability but also ensuring information remains secure and protected. Unfortunately, as the Corda Network continues to evolve, these factors are yet to be realised. However, participant interoperability is much more possible and even happening today.

What we mean by participant interoperability

Participant interoperability refers to a single participant joining two networks with applications designed to work together. For example, if a bank, corporate and a solution like essDOCS, are members of our network, they can then view an eSet on both essDOCS and Contour, as well as forward it under a Letter of Credit through Contour with the status also being updated in essDOCS.

The applications have been synced using Application Process Interfaces (API) between the two systems, with the corporate and individual identities synced as well. In the simplest of terms, what happens on essDOCS is updated on Contour and what happens on Contour is updated on essDOCS.

The benefit of this approach is that these two networks have no technical restrictions in order to work. They both do not need to be on Corda or even blockchain. It only requires that participants join more than one network. In many ways it reflects our underlining belief at Contour – as long as it drives a change in the industry and benefits the customer, we’re happy to work with as many organisations as possible – Ethereum, Quorum, Fabric, Centralised or Decentralised.

Collaboration is key

Building participant interoperability is not about common notaries or trust roots, but rather through working with the participants themselves. Collaboration between networks is creating interoperability on Contour as well as our integrator partners like essDOCS, Bolero, TradeCloud, Chinsay, as well as others.

This interoperability allows users to extend the benefits of each platform to their businesses – using the advantages of our integrators and the services that Contour provides.

We’re excited about the possibility of the Corda Network driving even more possibilities through network interoperability, but our members don’t need to wait for that – we are interoperable today at the participant level. The only question you have to ask yourself is: what networks do you want to join?

Learn how interoperability can give you an end-to-end digital experience. Click here to find out more.

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