October sees the launch of Lloyds TSB’s Online Trade Services (LOTS).



Standard trade finance instruments will soon be joined online by structured products – making the bank’s entire trade finance offering accessible via a single browser portal.


This online client interface will be linked into a central UK service centre in order to streamline end to end processing. Yet Lloyds TSB aims to ensure that efficiency does not override ongoing personal contact. To this end, specially-trained sales and support staff will share with relationship managers the responsibility of following up transactions to their successful conclusion.


“On account of its low cost base, registering with LOTS will be possible for the whole spectrum of business activity in the UK,” says Peter Sargent, director of international trade finance at Lloyds TSB Corporate in London. “Unlike modem-based systems, which carried sometimes prohibitive installation costs, browser access to a bank-provided IT hub simply requires an existing internet connection – making it no more expensive than accessing web-based email.”


The purpose of this “hub “is to provide secure messaging between customers and the bank, meaning letters of credit will be advised online direct to beneficiaries. LC details received by Swift will be automatically downloaded and any subsequent correspondence relating to the transaction – such as clarification of LC terms or dialogue surrounding discrepant documents – also remains online. LOTS includes workflow management functions in order to improve usability, while security is guaranteed by effective coding and systems administrator protection. The same principles apply to collections and guarantees, with the issuing instruction being transmitted directly to the bank via LOTS.


The primary benefits of LOTS will therefore be twofold, including both the eradication of error margins in trade documentation and improved speed of delivery. This should minimise hold-ups in the value chain, from booking shipping arrangements to placing orders with suppliers – uncertainties that place unnecessary extra demands on company cash requirements. Realtime monitoring of transactions, however, means greater certainty in the timeframe of future cash movements. And access to such monitoring may be extended by customers to their counterparties – and other nominated parties such as freight forwarders – via controlled password access.


“More predictable payment dates on account of realtime access, as well as full confidence in documentation, will allow for the possibility of much greater leanness in cash management,” says Sargent.