Sun Microsystems beefs up

An alliance with Sun Microsystems beefs up''s position to electronify international trade documentation.

Sun Microsystems and have signed an agreement under which Sun customers will be able to connect to the bolero system to exchange trade data and documents with cross-border partners. A Sun subsidiary, i-Planet, will create a Java plug-in for its 'Trustbase' suite to allow direct access to bolero's web-based system.

Bolero, set up by SWIFT and the Through Transport Club in 1994, is aimed at creating an open, common system to exchange business data and documents via the internet in order to take advantage of the speed and efficiency of e-commerce. As it plans to maintain an open, non-proprietary system, user interfaces and software will not be developed. Instead, partners such as Sun will be used to develop '' solutions.

"A range of leading multinationals from Europe, the United States and Asia have signed up to," says Peter Scott,'s commercial director. "The speed at which we will be able to roll out into the trading chains of these early adopters will be greatly enhanced by our initiative with Sun Microsystems."

Paperless alternative

Proprietary electronic data interchange (EDI) systems are commonly used for messaging between banks, financial institutions, companies and industries. But such systems are expensive and, because of their proprietary nature, are closed systems. The idea of an open, common system on the internet offers an enticing paperless alternative. So much so that seven out of 10 of the world's top banks have signed on to, including Citibank and HSBC, as well as large trading houses such as Mitsui and Marubeni.

Bolero requires the participation and cooperation of all parties in the complex trade process - from importers and exporters to freight forwarders, port authorities, inspection agencies, government customs agencies and financial institutions. Furthermore, contractual and legal standards have to be agreed upon by all participants.

Says Nigel Woodward, business development director of Sun's finance division: "As the volume of internet commerce rises, the focus has shifted on to the need for virtual equivalents of real world commercial concepts such as signature, contract, authorization, liability and dispute resolution."

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