Blockchainis ageneral term for a distributed digital ledger that can record transactions and is tamper-proof. It’s the underlying technology that makes cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and Ethereum possible, but it has also been talked up by banks as a way to streamline processes and make them more efficient and cheaper.

IBM is building this new blockchain, Digital Trade Chain, to help parties track, manage and transact internationally.

When a merchant sells goods to another party and those goods arrive, the blockchain triggers a payment to take place, explained Wiebe Draijer, chairman of the executive board at Rabobank, one of the participating banks.

“We take care of the payment that’s still the old payment technology,” Draijer told CNBC in a TV interview on Monday, “but the whole infrastructure, the administration is done on the blockchain. And ultimately we will also move the payment into that blockchain solution, when the payment in blockchain is ready to be robust for large-scale application.”

Seven banks — Deutsche Bank, HSBC, KBC, Natixis, Rabobank, Societe Generale and Unicredit — are part of the consortium.

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