Well Fargo and Commonwealth Bank of Australia claim to have successfully conducted a trade of cotton on a distributed ledger. However, it remains unclear what ledger was used.
If the blockchain and/or Ethereum were used, or better yet, if they used T0, then this is interesting. If not, then it's not since there's no other blockchain based system secure enough for a transaction such as this without additional governing fail safes.
It could be another IBM/Walmart scenario where it sounds good as a headline, but underneath the covers, there's just a database that each party has access to.
Regardless, this is press for bitcoin and that's never a bad thing, especially when it's not claiming the death and destruction of the digital currency.
This wouldn't be the first trade on the blockchain even if they are doing the settlement on the network. Overstocks T0 platform pulled that off a while back in 2015. It would be the first international one however.
R3 nor Corda appeared to be involved, in fact it was specifically stated that they were not, which would have instantly negated any blockchain credibility, so for now, we'll consider this plausible. However if this was simply done in a controlled private environment, it seriously lacks credibility due to the nature of possible security.
That may not be the case, according to Reuters, several block-chain applications were utilized. It's quite possible the transaction was recorded on the actual blockchain (bitcoin) which would certainly make this historic and something to admire because that would certainly make this official and believable.
This is a model that would be useful, even if the banks used their own software to conduct the trade, so long as the record was finalized and recorded on the public blockchain as a digital asset record, this would be acceptable and impressive.
For now, however, these are just words with nothing to back up the claim ... it may just be another smoke-and-mirrors effort like IBM's ... but it does sound impressive.