secures $30 million in private placement

Electronic trade community announces new funding and a new technology partner., a secure electronic system for transmitting trade documents, has secured $30 million in a private placement led by private equity investment group Apax Partners. offers services designed for use by importers, exporters, shipping organisations and financial institutions. It launched in September 1999 offering services that include the secure delivery of documents; the electronic transfer of ownership of goods; and a universally binding legal framework.

The company was created in 1998 by the international financial messaging co-operative SWIFT - the Society for World-wide Interbank Financial Telecommunication - and The TT - Through Transport - Club, which is a mutual insurance vehicle for the world's container fleet carriers, ports and terminals and logistics companies.

According to chief executive Barry Morse the money will be used for the usual purpose of further global expansion. “We will increase our depth by putting more resources behind the implementation programme that helps companies roll out through their trading chains and will allow an increase in the range of products on offer to our customers," he says. The private placement was arranged by UBS Warburg.


International trade has traditionally been a very paper-intensive business and it wasn’t long before companies began to see that the internet provided the ideal opportunity to cut through the paper trail and achieve some serious savings in time and money. There are a number of companies offering solutions and competing for customers, and these come from a range of backgrounds. Banks have launched online trade finance services, shipping companies have moved some document handling and shipment tracking onto the internet, and there are other companies that claim to provide a complete service. says it will be successful not only because of the quality of participants - seven out of the world's top ten banks have now signed up, as well as major trading houses such as Mitsui and Marubeni; and carriers such as Cosco – but also because it is committed to providing a completely open system that runs over the internet. This means that a market has been opened up for technology companies to develop " enabled" interfaces. Alternatively, major customers can develop their own interfaces to connect to the bolero system.

The latest technology company to join’s partner network is SmartStream, a vendor of trade finance solutions to commercial banks. It joins existing partners in this area such as Midas Kapiti, Surecomp and China Systems.

Under the terms of the agreement, SmartStream will develop new modules to support services and standards, giving its client banks access to other parties involved in trade transactions that they might not have been otherwise able to reach. SmartStream says its software had already been given the SWIFT Ready Gold Label, meaning that it complies with the same standards that have been used in’s core messaging platform. 

"The increasing trend to deliver trade finance systems over the internet made it a natural decision for us to integrate our Trade Finance solutions with the BOLERO network,” says Christian Necas, SmartStream's Trade Finance Business Division Manager. “The new standards will allow the automation of tasks which we did not even dare to dream of a few years ago."

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