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Lloyds Bank is the first UK banking institution to integrate with the WaveBL digital trade documentation platform, introducing enhanced trade efficiencies and sustainability advantages for its customers through the adoption of electronic Bills of Lading (eBLs).

Bills of Lading play a pivotal role in global commerce, serving as a confirmation of goods shipment by a carrier to a buyer, and symbolising a ‘receipt’ for the shipped items. These documents are crucial for the legal transfer of goods upon payment or agreed payment terms.

Traditionally, Bills of Lading have been paper-based, but Lloyds Bank’s collaboration with WaveBL now enables its customers to exchange digital, blockchain-encrypted eBLs across the WaveBL network, which spans 136 nations and includes some of the largest global shipping companies.

This digital system allows for the swift transfer of eBLs within minutes, a significant improvement over the days required for physical document exchanges. It also mitigates the risks associated with paper documents, such as forgery and loss, and reduces environmental impact by eliminating paper usage and physical transfers.

Lloyds Bank’s partnership with WaveBL aligns with its commitment to trade digitalisation, further demonstrated by its endorsement of the Future of International Trade (FIT) Alliance’s eBLs declaration in October 2023. 

The FIT Alliance, supported by major maritime and trade organisations, is dedicated to promoting and expediting the adoption of eBLs to achieve full global conversion by 2030.

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.”

Ofer Ein Bar, VP financial institutions, WaveBL, said, “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.”

The collaboration with WaveBL marks the most recent advancement in Lloyds Bank’s ongoing digital trade finance ventures.

In a landmark move in September 2023, Lloyds Bank executed its inaugural transaction under the UK’s Electronic Trade Documents Act (ETDA), groundbreaking legislation that equates the legal status of electronic and paper-based trade documents, including Bills of Exchange and Bills of Lading.

This transaction was conducted on behalf of Matalan Retail Ltd, where a digital promissory note was utilised by Matalan to confirm liability during the settlement of a documentary collection for a garment purchase from a supplier. 

Leveraging this digital approach, crucial documents were delivered two days sooner than would have been possible with traditional paper-based processes.

Furthermore, in 2022, Lloyds Bank achieved a first in the UK by finalising a digital promissory note transaction under the International Trade and Forfaiting Association’s (ITFA) Digital Negotiable Instrument Initiative, predating the ETDA. 

This pilot transaction, involving a £48 million land sale and purchase among various UK firms, was both initiated and concluded within a single day.