Facing the COVID-19 pandemic and its broad effects on almost everyone's work and workplace, we are all confronted with a new need for flexibility and rethinking. The majority of employees in the trade business are currently working from home, which means that many processes needed amendment. In most cases, that means, that IT-departments were working on providing digital solutions for communication and managed intersections to all those new home offices. But when it comes to trade financing, things become more complex, and legal barriers prohibit full digitization of the process.
Until now, only a few countries allow the usage of electronic trade documents. The vast majority still requires hard-copy trade documents to be sent to the banks, where they need to be checked by their staff. Although international trade rules have already implied such clauses for electronic documents, many countries missed to include them into national law so far. Especially in these times, digitization of document processing is more urgent than ever before.
Also the ICC acknowledged the urge and published the "ICC memo to governments and central banks on essential steps to safeguard trade finance operations" to strongly appeal for an internationally accepted use of electronic trade documentation. The gap that exists between international regulations and most national legislations needs to be closed to reach international allowance. As we have faced so many changes in our working environment in the past few weeks, we get to experience that quick reactions towards digital processes are possible. Companies and employees managed to enable work from home, and now it is time for governments to follow.
Since Germany already included a clause for electronic bills of lading a few years ago, HAPTIK is preparing a platform to provide legally conform electronic B/Ls. The German Commercial Code requires functional equivalence to paper-based B/Ls, which will be implemented by a constant attendance of our lawyers throughout the software development. Compliant programming, i.e. the legally compliant programming of software, can only succeed if the software developers are fully informed about the legal implications. Our decentral approach will lead to further trust since there is no single point of failure, and no data will leak to external parties.
Besides all the terrible influences that this pandemic has, we might take some of the struggles and turn it into something useful. Being forced to digitize a running business within only a few days or weeks has been a challenge for many companies. But while we all (slowly) start to get used to it, we can begin to see the advantages and think of which we can keep beyond the quarantine. A digitized bill of lading process saves time, money and environmental resources. Now is the time to leave hard-copy trade documents behind and switch to digital processes. If you are interested in HAPTIK and require further information, please do not hesitate to contact us on LinkedIn or via E-Mail.