Under new plans to introduce paperless trade, British businesses could save more than £1bn during the next decade…
Last month, a bill that would see digital trade documents being made as legally valid as their paper counterparts had its first reading in parliament.
Some of the documents due to be digitised include bills of exchange, bills of lading, and ship’s delivery orders.
As it stands, these documents legally must be paper based. Now, though, the Electronic Trade Documents Bill will finally end the sector’s reliance on paper documentation. But crucially, businesses will not be forced to make the switch.
The benefits of paperless trade
While British businesses will not be made to do so, there are plenty of benefits that will make switching worth their while.
For one thing, the use of digital trade documents will significantly cut processing times, from up to 10 days to mere seconds. In doing so, it will also reduce administration costs, errors, and delays.
Productivity stands to drastically improve as a result. According to research carried out by The International Chamber of Commerce, it is estimated that small and medium-sized businesses could see a 13% increase in international business as a result of the changes.
And there are advantages for the UK trade sector as a whole! In fact, it looks like the move could save the industry billions…
As an example, even at a 50% adoption rate, the introduction of electronic bills of lading is expected to save the shipping industry as much as £3.6m a year. And that’s just one of several documents that are due to change.
If that wasn’t enough, it’s also set to be a great thing for sustainability. By substantially reducing the 28.5bn paper trading documents that are printed and transported across the world every day, the logistics sector could cut its global carbon emissions by 12%.
What is paperless trade?
Up until now, due to old British law, paperless, non-physical trade documents were unfeasible. The Electronic Trade Documents Bill is all set to change that.
However, the digital documents aim to mirror some key features of their paper predecessors.
For example, only one person (or parties acting jointly) can have control over the documents at any one time. So, a previous owner would no longer have the power to make changes once the document has been transferred.
This will help to ensure security, increase accountability, and minimise fraud. Blockchain and distributed ledger technology will provide additional security.
Introducing paperless trading
This move is due to give British business a boost of £1.14bn over a 10-year period.
Ensure your business takes full advantage of the switch by hiring people with the knowledge and skillset to adopt early.
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