We have previously made reference to a workstream under the auspices of the ICC Digitalisation project which addresses the automation of document examination under documentary credits.
Whilst a critical aspect of the documentary credit cycle, it is well recognised that the document examination process is time-consuming, costly, and requires a solid base of experienced staff. The key reason for this being paper.
It was highlighted in the ICC 2018 Global Survey on Trade Finance that there are, at any given time, an estimated 4 billion pages of Trade and Trade Finance documents in circulation.
Recent and ongoing digital developments, specifically with regard to smart Optimal Character Recognition (OCR), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML), are creating a new environment in which the time taken in the paper examination process can be significantly reduced.
With this in mind, the Digitalisation Working Group, following consultation with ICC National Committees, is finalising an information paper which provides background on recent advances in this field together with an outline of the expected benefits. Additionally, in order to assist organisations in understanding where they are positioned, an automation matrix is included within the paper.
It is important to take note of the fact that solutions already exist which clearly support the use of technology to hugely improve the efficiency of manual work, and this paper is intended as an informational guide to those currently available.
Moving forward, it will be recommended that the paper be used proactively, and organisations will be encouraged to explore how automating the document examination process could reduce cost and reliance on laborious manual processing in their specific context.
In this respect, it is interesting to note a recent press release from Traydstream https://traydstream.com/traydstream-and-standard-bank-group-are-pleased-to-announce-achieving-a-major-milestone-with-its-automated-trade-document-checking-solution-roll-out/
"From April 2021, all Standard Bank, South Africa trade transactions within a set threshold will rely on the Traydstream platform to augment human intelligence to complete all the necessary UCP 600 and ISBP trade rule checks as well as cross-document and compliance verifications to identify discrepancies."
Our mantra in the past has been that document checking is an art not a science. With algorithmic programming, we are finally entering a stage where this will be turned on its head.
Do not expect manual document checking to disappear for a few years yet, but the emerging buds are already in place.
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin'
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'
Acknowledgements to Bob Dylan