Levantor and Crédit Agricole CIB lead the way toward modernising trade finance with electronically signed negotiable instruments
Levantor’s panel of banks and institutional investors have funded $3.7bn of electronically signed negotiable instruments. Crédit Agricole CIB, one of Levantor’s largest funding partners, has led the transition, funding $2.7bn of electronically signed bills of exchange.
While it is common practice to recognise electronically signed contracts, negotiable instruments like bills of exchange and promissory notes have been left behind as governing laws have not yet been modernised to cater for digitisation. The crux of the issue lies in the concept of ‘possession’. Currently, the law determines that a negotiable instrument must be ‘possessable’ to be legitimate and that, as an intangible asset, electronic files cannot be possessed or delivered.
Governments, including in the UK, are working to change the law to allow for digital negotiable instruments, but progress has been slow and market adoption will take time.
In the meantime, however, the logistical challenges of couriering paper negotiable instruments around to signatories in multiple locations – made all the more challenging during COVID lock-downs – presented real challenges to the use of otherwise ideal negotiable instruments like bills of exchange.
Working with Crédit Agricole CIB and supported by its legal adviser Fieldfisher LLP, Levantor solved the problem by introducing in 2020 a process that enabled bills of exchange to be signed for acceptance and drawing electronically. Post signing, the AA- rated custodian in the funding structure prints each bill once and is empowered to endorse (via wet-ink signature) and deliver bills to funders. The solution proved to be highly effective, enabling customers in EMEA, the Americas and APAC to finance trade in a significantly easier manner.
Benefits go beyond funding efficiencies. Signing negotiable instruments electronically reduces carbon emissions from couriers transporting physical documents among signatories across countries and continents.
Mike Humphreys, Chairman and Founder of the Levantor Group, said: “We are proud that our solution to the electronic negotiable instruments conundrum is solving a major problem in the trade finance sector and has accelerated bringing cost, time, and carbon emissions savings to our customers on a global scale.”
Mona Ghazzaoui, Head of Receivables and Payables Americas said: “Crédit Agricole CIB is proud of the partnership we have been able to develop with Levantor for providing innovative working capital solutions to our clients and prospective clients. The ability to provide a digital solution to negotiable instruments like a bill of exchange is a key differentiator in the market that has been well received by our clients.”
Fieldfisher LLP served as legal counsel, providing the following statements related to the legal legitimacy of electronically signed negotiable instruments: "Setting up an effective process for the digitisation of negotiable instruments has challenges. But, with appropriate structuring, it is possible do this effectively. We have been delighted to help Levantor and Crédit Agricole CIB in setting up the programme."
About Crédit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank (Crédit Agricole CIB)
Crédit Agricole CIB is the corporate and investment banking arm of Credit Agricole Group, the 10th largest banking group worldwide in terms of balance sheet size (The Banker, July 2022). More than 8,900 employees across Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa support the Bank's clients, meeting their financial needs throughout the world. Crédit Agricole CIB offers its large corporate and institutional clients a range of products and services in capital markets activities, investment banking, structured finance, commercial banking and international trade. The Bank is a pioneer in the area of climate finance, and is currently a market leader in this segment with a complete offer for all its clients.
For more information, please visit www.ca-cib.com
Levantor provides simple, scalable working capital to customers of global manufacturers to substantially increase their sales by providing payment terms that work for both parties. To date teams in the UK, Switzerland and the USA have managed financing worth in excess of $10 billion due to their innovative offering and large panel of banks and asset managers, amongst which Credit Agricole, Bank of China, FimBank, NatWest and Allianz Global Investors. Levantor has provided financing valued at over $3.7bn via their market-leading electronically signed negotiable instruments. Join some of the largest, most well-known companies and institutions in the world already using Levantor’s platform to grow revenue and increase returns.
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