Belgian Antwerp is the world’s center for buying and selling of diamonds. Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC) is an industry-established foundation with the mission to serve and support the diamond business. Today it announced a new partnership with San Francisco-based Uphold and Belgium-based FX4BIZ.
AWDC has turned to such unexpected partners to overcome the diamond downturn. Indeed diamonds have not been popular lately. Trade volume has reduced by 18%, from $59 billion in 2014 to $48.3 billion in 2015. Although AWDC states that India and Israel undergo a much sharper decline, diamond crisis in Antwerp is obvious. As a watchdog for the industry, the Center intends to deal the problem.
Both Uphold and FX4BIZ are payment platforms that offer fast switch between currencies, including virtual currencies and commodities. “We, as the industry’s representative organization, are always searching for new technologies and ways to distinguish ourselves from our competitors,” said AWDC CEO Ari Epstein.
“Antwerp has safeguarded its world-leading position in the global diamond market by being agile and adopting innovative technologies. We are confident that Uphold and FX4BIZ platforms will save time and money for our members and ease the burdens that can be associated with sending funds internationally,” he added.
Epstein reminded that two new collaborations became the result of the diamond investment symposium AWDC held last year. The symposium was organized together with Morgan Stanley and aimed at promotion of transparency to institutional investors investing in the diamond industry.
According to the agreement, more than 2,000 diamond dealers all over the world will be encouraged to use Uphold or FX4BIZ for their banking services, foreign exchange and money transfer services thus enabling faster and cheaper transactions. As a result traders will be able to transact funds across complex and dispersed supply chains – easy, instant and free. The reaction of diamond traders is unknown yet.
“We get to showcase our platform in something that hasn’t been done before,” says Uphold CEO Anthony Watson. “AWDC needed a real-time platform that allows for payment processing and clearing for their traders and dealers. Uphold platform will save diamond traders tens of millions of dollars each year.”
For Uphold this deal brings not just financial potential, but the legitimacy of a global market partner to a still-nascent platform rebranded at the end of last year (Uphold was initially launched as BitReserve in 2014). As a result of the partnership, Uphold is also opening its third European office in Antwerp.
FX4BIZ CFO Patrick Mollard adds: “We are highly motivated to work with AWDC in building a tailor-made and sustainable bank infrastructure for this industry. We are convinced that the key success factors on this project will be AWDC’s capacity to share its expertise and our ability to comply with strict international regulatory constraints.”