Singapore Customs has launched an electronic banker’s guarantee (eBG) programme on the Networked Trade Platform (NTP), following seven months of pilots with BNP Paribas, DBS Bank, OCBC Bank, SMBC and UOB.

Unlike the traditional banker’s guarantee (BG), which can take up to 10 working days and see traders make up to three trips to banks and customs for a single lodgement, the eBG is a simplified, completely paperless process with a lead time of just one day.

“Singapore Customs is proud to be the first agency in Singapore to implement an electronic, paperless BG programme, in collaboration with the banks via digital connectivity of the NTP. We hope that the eBG programme will be a catalyst for the industry and inspire more collaboration with like-minded partners, domestically and overseas to facilitate trade,” says Choo Wai Yee, director of the NTP office at Singapore Customs.

The eBG process allows traders to apply electronically to issue a BG through their bank. The bank then issues the BG and lodges it directly with Singapore Customs by sending structured data digitally via the NTP, cutting out the need for the trader to collect the approved paper BG from the bank and courier it to customs.

In addition, the eBG programme also caters for early discharge of the BG via digital channels, which means that traders will no longer need to collect the physical BG and letter of discharge from Singapore Customs and return it to their issuing bank.

“Singapore Customs’ eBG programme is an important step in the right direction as it works towards the end-to-end automation of the bank guarantee process for traders and banks, enabling trade ecosystems to transcend physical constraints, addressing age-old manual pain-points and unlocking greater efficiencies through the digitalised process wherein the transactions are completed in a matter of hours,” says Sriram Muthukrishnan, group head of trade product at DBS Bank.