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Lloyds Bank Embraces Paperless Future of International Trade in Partnership With WaveBL

Lloyds Bank has become the first UK bank to join the WaveBL electronic trade documentation platform, in an effort to unlock new trade efficiencies and sustainability benefits for its clients by using electronic Bills of Lading (eBLs) and ditching paper forms.

Bills of Lading are important documents in international trade which are issued by a carrier when a seller dispatches goods to an end customer – with the document essentially acting as a receipt for the goods being shipped. Once payment for the goods is received, the Bill of Lading is released to the buyer so they can claim the product on arrival.

The vast majority of Bills of Lading are currently in paper form. Through this new partnership, Lloyds Bank’s clients will now be able to securely transfer fully digital, blockchain-based eBLs between organisations on the WaveBL network, which boasts members in 136 countries and includes four of the world’s ten largest container shipping carriers.

The system means eBLs will be able to be passed between parties in minutes, compared to days for paper versions. It will also eliminate the risk of forgery, loss and theft of paper versions and reduce the environmental impact of Bills of Lading by removing the need for paper products and a physical document transfer process.

The partnership with WaveBL comes as part of Lloyds Bank’s continued commitment and innovation in driving trade digitalisation and follows it becoming a signatory to the Future of International Trade (FIT) Alliance’s electronic Bills of Lading (eBLs) declaration in October 2023.

Embracing paperless trade
Rogier van Lammeren, head of trade and working capital products at Lloyds Bank
Rogier van Lammeren, head of trade and working capital products at Lloyds Bank

Rogier van Lammeren, head of trade and working capital products at Lloyds Bank, said: “Paperless trade is the future, with tremendous benefits on offer in terms of economic growth, increased efficiency, reduced risk and environmental sustainability.

“Collaboration and innovation are two of the key factors that will drive and support greater adoption. This new partnership with WaveBL is an example of both in action. Our clients now have easy access to a global platform for eBLs to complement our existing suite of digital trade documentation solutions – enabling them to capitalise on opportunities quickly and securely, while reducing their impact on the environment.”

The FIT Alliance – founded by the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and Swift – aims to raise awareness and accelerate the adoption of a standards-based electronic bill of lading (eBL) across all sectors of the shipping industry.

The declaration signifies support for the goal of driving digitalisation in international trade, with an aim of delivering 100 per cent global uptake in eBLs by 2030.

Ofer Ein Bar, VP of financial institutions at WaveBL, also added: “Corporates are looking to prioritise digital trade solutions, and financial institutions have been looking at how they can meet this demand. Our partnership with Lloyds Bank, an industry leader in trade digitalisation, represents a strategic leap forward for banks to support corporates as they digitalise, while enhancing customer satisfaction.”

Lloyds Bank on a digital trade finance offensive

The partnership with WaveBL is the latest in a series of digital trade finance initiatives unveiled by Lloyds Bank.

In September 2023, Lloyds Bank completed the first transaction under the UK’s Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA) – a pioneering piece of legislation that gives electronic Bills of Exchange, Bills of Lading and other commercial documents the same legal footing as paper documents.

The transaction was completed for Matalan Retail Ltd. A digital promissory note was issued by Matalan to accept liability when settling a documentary collection for the purchase of garments from one of its suppliers. Through the technology, the key documents arrived two days earlier than they would have, if the promissory note had been concluded on paper.

In 2022, Lloyds Bank also completed the UK’s first digital promissory note purchase under the International Trade and Forfaiting Association’s (ITFA) Digital Negotiable Instrument Initiative using a contractual law pre-cursor to the ETDA. The ‘pilot’ transaction was initiated and completed within a day and involved the sale and purchase of land worth £48million between several UK businesses.

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