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Global Commodity Technology Association launched to support physical commodity sector’s modernisation efforts

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Motivated by a desire to evaluate and accelerate digitalisation opportunities in the global agricultural commodity industry, the Global Commodity Technology Association (GCTA) has launched with financial services industry veteran David Lehman as its Managing Director.
The new international, not-for-profit association’s mission is to support stakeholders along the supply chain who are focused on enhancing the efficiency of their internal trading processes and standardizsng post-trade execution.
Lehman says: “Commodity trading remains a manual industry that is nearly completely reliant on paper processes for contracting, invoicing and payments. To remedy this, we need stakeholders from across the supply chain to collaborate on priorities and solutions to bring the physical trade into the digital age. We’re excited about the GCTA’s potential to accelerate some of the existing initiatives underway and ultimately work to reduce costs and increase efficiency.”
Throughout his more than 30 years in the industry, Lehman has played key roles in commodity market research and education at some of the world’s leading derivatives marketplaces. Prior to forming his own firm, he was Managing Director, Research and Product Development at CME Group. In that role, he helped lead the development of new financial and commodity products for the exchange, managing large global research teams and overseeing contract specifications for all products. He also held multiple senior roles, including Chief Economist, at Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) before its acquisition by CME Group. He began his career at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), where he helped develop the agency’s automated large trader surveillance system.
Membership in the GCTA is now open to participants in the global commodities supply chain involved in ocean-bound agricultural trade. This includes growers, processors, logistics providers and trading houses, who will form a working group to support the industry’s ongoing efforts to usher in efficiencies brought about by digitalisation. Association membership will be limited initially to selected entities in order to create a small but functional cross-representation of the industry’s interests. 
“Major commodity sector players have shown keen interest in the GCTA’s mission, so now it is time to confirm intent with action by joining the association we’re creating to propel the industry forward,” says Lehman. “The environment is only getting more challenging for trading houses of all sizes, so determining the industry’s next technology solution will serve to increase transparency, efficiency and reliability for all players. Participation in this not-for-profit member association will provide benefits to a diverse set of stakeholders from across the front-office, back-office and technology communities industry-wide. We welcome trading desk and freight forwarding division heads, heads of trade operations, digitalisation leads and chief information officers – all voices are welcome as we embark on this important work to support the modernisation of the commodity industry.”
PanXchange, a physical commodities OTC market structure solutions provider for diverse sectors including industrial hemp, frac sand and East African commodities, has joined the GCTA as a founding member. Julie Lerner, Founder and CEO of PanXchange, is also the Founder of the GCTA.
Lerner says: “Over the last few years, blockchain has been touted as a panacea for all issues associated with the harmonisation of post-trade deal flow.  However, it’s unrealistic to expect that the documentation required to support large-scale grain trading, for example, would be suitable for blockchain, at least in the near term. In our view, we must first take measured yet meaningful steps that lead to the interoperability of all back-office systems with the many documents and emails that currently support both ends of the supply chain. The GCTA’s success will be marked by this harmonisation — one document and one procedure at a time — which is prerequisite for the rollout of any distributed ledger technology.
She adds: “The GCTA is wholly focused on developing consensus on process and requirements. We have no plans to build any proprietary technology.”

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