Standard Chartered Bank has launched B2BeX, a web-based trade facilitation platform that will the bank claims will “revolutionise the way that companies conduct trade”. B2BeX gives users the edge in competitiveness and efficiency, adds the bank. It provides a convenient one-stop shop in a secure online environment for everyone involved in international trade, including suppliers, buyers, related companies, transport and logistics companies, insurers, inspection agencies and financial services providers.

Customers can now streamline all their supply chain activities with the extensive range of trade-related services available on the platform, and gain access to over 20 leading service providers from the shipping, insurance, catalogue and other trade-related lines of business.

International trade has typically been a complex, time-consuming, paper-based and labour-intensive activity, involving countless documents being created and exchanged, and extensive communications among multiple parties. Any errors or delays result in lost time, increased costs and lost opportunities. With B2BeX, international trade becomes simple. B2BeX simplifies international trade by integrating the key trade processes end-to-end, and delivering them on a single platform.

The B2BeX platform enables the different parties in the trade process to exchange documents and data with each other, including purchase orders, confirmations, shipping instructions, letter of credit applications and so forth, in a more automated manner. The platform includes a product catalogue where buyers and suppliers can post and source products, in either a public or private community, where they can then re-use the data in sending requests for quotes, purchase orders etc, all the way through the entire transaction.

This ability to inherit information from one document to the next virtually eliminates re-work and errors due to the data being manually re-keyed into multiple documents. With B2BeX’s messaging and translation technologies, trading partners using different systems can now communicate easily with each other in a more automated and collaborative manner. The linking of documents and data facilitates more efficient business analysis and management of all supply-chain related activities. When applied to cross-border trading activities where over 100 documents can be involved in a single transaction, companies all along the supply chain can enjoy significant gains in efficiency and competitiveness.

These features translate into real and tangible benefits for users, as some pilot customers can attest: Says Simon Atkinson, group treasurer of Woolworths Group PLC, a major retailer based in the UK: “Standard Chartered B2BeX allows us the opportunity to look at the link between the purchase order issuance and the letter of credit. There are three important advantages with this link. First, we can introduce straight through processing. Second, orders that are amended can be sent straight through to the LC. Third, we can reduce discrepancies in documents when the supplier presents to the bank. All of these combined should mean potentially better trade terms. The modular aspect of B2BeX allows us to implement one step at a time. The web platform allows us to work across Asia and with the UK. B2BeX also standardises electronic documents and this, together with the modular design, might, in future, encourage us to introduce our other trading partners to the system.”

Richard Chu, executive director of Hong Kong-based trading company Chung Nan Industrial Supplies Company Limited, says: “With B2BeX, we have managed to accelerate our routine administrative and import tasks, and have achieved significant cost savings as a result. We have reduced our internal paperwork processing costs by as much as 40%, and saved thousands of dollars in late payment fees. In many ways, B2BeX is a major step forward for Chung Nan and a real service to customers.”