Digitalisation in trade: The situation report – Berne Union Yearbook 2020

Originally published in The Berne Union Yearbook 2020

John Bugeja, Managing Director at Trade Advisory Network explores the current landscape on trade digitisation in depth. Where are we now, why is digitisation necessary and where are we heading?

What Is digitalisation?

Digitalisation is the use of electronic records to drive processes through the use of interfaces or through integration. The precursor to digitalisation was the use of telex and cable to initiate transactions in place of paper-based communications between banks. This began to change in 1973 when SWIFT was formed by 239 banks from 15 countries. In order to improve efficiency, eliminate re-keying errors and achieve ‘straight through processing’ functionality, banks quickly started to build interfaces connecting their processing platforms to their SWIFT gateways.

The challenge and the business benefits

The challenge for finance providers now is to use data produced in corporate supply chains to drive financial interventions. Currently, much of this data is printed to paper and then presented to banks who then enter the data into their own systems to create new electronic records used in transaction processing. At Trade Advisory Network, we are frequently approached by Fintechs who purport to have solved some element of this challenge. Our first question is typically: ‘what problem are you trying to solve?’ We can categorise the potential business benefits under a number of headings…  View full article (PDF)


Berne UnionThe Berne Union is an international not-for-profit trade association representing the global export credit and investment insurance industry. The Berne Union Yearbook is an annual publication providing up-to-date information about members and the current policies and strategies of international economic institutions. A copy of the full publication can be downloaded at this link:

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