Traders are keen to conduct more trade digitally and pushing banks to move away from paper-based documentation.

At GTR’s Asia Trade Finance Week, speakers highlighted the increased speed, certainty and accuracy of shipment documentation in comparison to paper-based alternatives.

Alan Adamson, general manager of supply chain at Cargill, told delegates that Cargill is on its way to making the digital transition: it has just finished a two-year trial period which has seen over half of the company’s businesses adopting electric documentation. He said: “Still using paper documentation just seems wrong to me.”

He believes that Cargill’s trial period “simply scratched the surface of the opportunities available”. “Cargill’s potential utilisation could run into well over US$400mn per year,” he said.

BHP Billiton’s Niki Sakelaropoulos, manager, analysis and improvement, said: “We have a 100% goal to make the transition with our paper-based export transactions across all areas of our business: coal, iron ore, petroleum, etc.

“The hardest hurdle is getting the whole chain to understand it. Now is the time to really round up and deliver.”

Ian Kerr, CEO of Bolero, called for more to be done and inferred that corporates were ahead of the curve in comparison to banks.

“There are insufficient members of this ‘club’ which makes it difficult to change,” said Adamson. He warned: “We need people to wake up and realise the benefits.”