A blockchain oil platform launched late last year to modernise physical commodities trading has hired a former JPMorgan Chase energy trader as its chief executive.

Vakt, the platform backed by leading oil companies such as BP and Royal Dutch Shell, traders Mercuria and Gunvor, and banks such as ING and ABN Amro, has appointed Etienne Amic, a former managing director at Mercuria and JPMorgan, to lead the company.

Using blockchain technology, Vakt was set up in November as a way of speeding up trades and reducing costs by eliminating the paper-based trading process. The underlying platform provides security and an audit trail that cannot be altered.

Vakt’s original investors and first users of the platform include energy majors BP, Equinor and Shell; independent traders Gunvor, Koch Supply & Trading, and Mercuria; and banks ABN Amro, ING and Société Générale. These have since been joined by Chevron, Total and Reliance Industries.

Mr Amic is co-founder and chairman of Vortexa, a cargo and analytics company focused on global crude oil and refined products markets, and founded CommodiTech Ventures, a group funding the next generation of commodities technology.

As well as the buyers and sellers of the raw material, the trading of physical oil involves terminal or pipeline operators, acting as de facto physical clearinghouses, and service providers such as port agents and inspection companies helping the material to move along and checking its physical characteristics.

Mr Amic said “the goal of Vakt is to facilitate all these contributions seamlessly and ‘on platform’”.

He added that to have leading oil companies and banks, many of them competitors, pulling in the same direction indicated that Vakt was “something very powerful that the industry really needs”.

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