IV.D Electronic payments and and electronic transferable records

Electronic payments are the backbone of the digital economy. To the extent that electronic payments are available, they could be incorporated in the paperless trade system. Usually, this is done by using electronic funds transfers, i.e. by ordering a bank to transfer money (wire transfer) or by using credit or debit cards. In other cases, certain commercial documents may be used to perform payment or give guarantee of payment.

IV.D.1 Does the paperless trade system initiate or accept electronic payments?

Electronic payment systems are increasingly common in developing countries as elsewhere. Electronic payments may be accepted by a paperless trade system for various purposes such as the payment of customs duties and fees.

Often, limitations apply to the types of electronic payments accepted, for example, by requiring the exclusive use of a payment service, such as a credit or debit card, or of a bank. Alternatively, payments can be made through electronic funds transfers available to the general public or to businesses in general. Please indicate if electronic payments used in the paperless trade system are restricted to a specific method or provider.

It may also be possible that any sum of money due by the paperless trade system operator, or one of its participants, to a user of that system may be transferred electronically under the rules devised especially for that system.

Finally, the use of electronic payments may be restricted to domestic transactions or may extend to payments originating or bound abroad.

Electronic payments may be accepted by public entities on the basis of a law of general application or of a specific provision for paperless trade systems.

Section 25 of the Electronic Transactions Act 2010 (Cap. 88) (Singapore) contains general provisions for the use and acceptance of electronic payments by public agencies.

25. Acceptance of electronic filing and issue of documents

(1)Any public agency that, pursuant to any written law –

(e) requires payment of any fee, charge or other amount by any method and manner of payment,

may, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in such written law, carry out that function by means of electronic record or in electronic form.

(2) In any case where a public agency decides to perform any of the functions in subsection (1) by means of electronic records or in electronic form, the public agency may specify —

(d) such control processes and procedures as may be appropriate to ensure adequate integrity, security and confidentiality of electronic records or payments

(e) any other required attributes for electronic records or payments that are currently specified for corresponding paper documents.

IV.D.2 Does the paperless trade system accept electronic transferable records?

Certain commercial documents incorporate the right to the payment of money or to delivery of goods. These documents are called transferable documents or instruments, or documents of title, and are essential for logistics and trade financing and, more generally, for supply chain management. These documents include bills of lading, bills of exchange, cheques, promissory notes and warehouse receipts, as well as, in certain countries, letters of credit.

In certain countries, the law may allow the use of some of these documents in electronic form. For instance,

Article 862 of the Commercial Act 2016 of the Republic of Korea has been amended to allow the use of bills of lading in electronic form compliant with the “Regulation on Implementation of the Provisions of the Commercial Act regarding Electronic Bills of Lading” and other implementing regulations. This was done to facilitate the full dematerialisation of all commercial documents that may be exchanged in a paperless trade system.

UNCITRAL has prepared the MLETR to legally enable the use of electronic transferable records in comprehensive manner and based on the principles of technology neutrality and functional equivalence.

The inclusion of electronic transferable records in a paperless trade system may indicate that the system performs the broader function of a national trade platform facilitating all types of trade-related electronic exchanges.