Bolero International, a provider of trade finance digitisation solutions, has launched a new platform in a bid to overhaul the way banks, corporates and carriers manage their trade services.

Galileo, which goes live today, is a web-based platform that will replace Bolero’s existing system and bring together all of Bolero’s current services in one place. Using APIs, it will connect to bank and other third-party systems, while a major extension in functionality will see users able to create, edit and manage letters of credit, electronic presentations and guarantees, as well as open account transactions and electronic bills of lading (eBLs).

Users will also be able subscribe to external services in areas such as compliance and e-certificates of origin, reducing discrepancies and transforming financing, collaboration, pricing and reporting. Meanwhile, on the pricing front, Bolero says it is moving to a subscription-based model to make the solution more affordable.

The aim, Bolero says, is to “future-proof” digital trade services for banks, corporates, carriers and other ecosystems by making it easier for them to embrace and deploy trade digitisation, removing barriers such as cost of entry and complexity in implementation.

In an exclusive interview, Andrew Raymond, Bolero’s CEO, and Anchal Tiwari, Bolero’s head of product management and strategy, tell GTR their reasoning for launching Galileo, and explain how they believe it will help drive the digitisation of trade.

GTR: If Bolero wasn’t broken, why fix it? What is the rationale behind launching this new platform?

Tiwari: Our clients were looking for certain things around functionality and access. We have clients using different services such as letters of credit, and there was obviously a need to bring everything onto one platform. On the other side, the banks have been looking for options to integrate Bolero with a lot of their solutions. We felt this was the right time to address all of that in this new solution.

Galileo is about changing the way our customers see our solution. We have always been seen as a messaging platform, so the intention is to change those conceptions and be able to work with different solutions on the market and various bank systems. We want to go beyond being just a messaging solution to become a fully-fledged platform with more functionality.

Raymond: We will be able to fulfil our promise to clients to really apply our platform to digitise trade finance in an easy, secure way. We have always had so much potential out there, and clients have believed in us for so long, and with this additional functionality on top of our channel, we will finally be able to provide an easy-to-use platform.

GTR: How does Galileo work with other trade digitisation initiatives?

Tiwari: As a web-based solution, Galileo is not based on blockchain technology, but the way the solution is implemented, it will be able to be interoperable with the other networks. In the past, we have worked with Contour, and we are now talking to Marco Polo and TradeLens. We are also in talks with R3 to launch an app on Corda which could make it easier for anybody to use our services.

If you look at the eBL as a service, we should be able to offer that service to any of the networks, and that is the philosophy behind the design of the new system.

GTR: What pain points does Galileo address?

Tiwari: The most important thing for corporate clients was around how to bring more onto the platform. We had customers using our platform, but they wanted it to be more scalable so they could get more information rather than it being just a messaging platform. A client banking with, say, 20 banks wants to be able to get information about the limits or charges that they have with banks.

On the bank side, they wanted to know how they could integrate this with their back office, because the reason they were not able to put more volume on the platform is because it was not integrated.

In designing the application, we looked at different ways of tackling the way customers interact with their banks and their counterparties. The way we are designing that collaboration between various trade parties is something that has not been done so far. This is the only platform to have multi-banking capabilities as well as eBL capabilities in the same place.

GTR: How soon will you onboard all Bolero clients to the new platform?

Tiwari: What is going out today is the first release, which focuses on the technology as a platform, and then we are putting open account presentation as a functionality on top of this platform. In this, we are reaching out to new and existing clients, especially in the open account space, and we will have this available in our sandbox for pilot transactions. We will do a month of trials, and then by the end of March we will start to move clients onto the new platform.

After that, we will have a release in April where we will have more services like letter of credit (LC) guarantees coming in, and then we will have a further release in June and another release in Q3 where we will bring all the other functionality onto the new platform.

GTR: Can we expect to see more collaborations like the one with Traydstream from late last year as a result of this new launch?

Raymond: We want to be perceived in the market as a product-oriented organisation instead of a standards or a channel organisation. We will definitely be introducing new features and functions on a regular basis, and we are also going to be pursuing more relationships like that with Traydstream. The idea is that if the clients already have the relationship with Bolero, why don’t we partner with other providers to provide their functionality on the platform? Corporates probably wouldn’t have the budget or the ability to onboard a new provider, but they would be able to click through and add another service through Bolero. And then, over time, we would have a range of services that would hopefully make Bolero more interesting for the corporates. This is a new theme of collaboration that we are definitely pushing.