TradeCard, a firm that seeks to automate international trade documents, said it has obtained $53 million in venture capital and has hired a bank technology veteran to be president and chief executive officer.
Kurt Cavano, vice president of American Management Systems Inc.'s corporate banking practice, has accepted an offer to lead TradeCard, a Bermuda firm formed in 1993 by the World Trade Centers Association of New York.
With the fresh capital from New York-based E.M. Warburg Pincus & Co., Mr. Cavano said, he plans to build an electronic commerce business aimed at turning scores of trade documents into electronic bits.
"We are at the convergence of two major trends: the exponential growth in business-to-business electronic commerce and the rapid expansion in world trade," Mr. Cavano said.
The World Trade Centers Association, whose members include port authorities, regional chambers of commerce, and 500,000 companies worldwide, said paper documents can add 4% to 7% in costs to the value of goods traded.
TradeCard and efforts like it are picking up steam as electronic commerce initiatives gain acceptance in a world trade market estimated at $5.3 trillion a year.
Bolero Ltd., a joint development of the Through Transport Club and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift, is testing an electronic registry for global trade with BankBoston Corp.
Chase Manhattan Corp., with Lucent Technologies, recently started testing an Internet-based outsourcing service, called TradeDoc, for exporters on the Pacific Rim.
Mr. Cavano, 42, is a 15-year veteran of Fairfax, Va.-based American Management Systems, where he ran technology development projects for several large banks.
TradeCard hired American Management Systems in 1996 to help design a system to simplify trade processes by electronically linking buyers, sellers, banks, freight forwarders, and insurers.
The system uses electronic data interchange software and network communications services from GE Information Systems, another investor in TradeCard.
Sedgewick Ltd., another TradeCard shareholder, supplies TradeCard with international advisory services. The London-based risk consultant and insurance broker can draw on its experience in global trade regulation, as well as its relationships with insurance underwriters.
With TradeCard, buyers and sellers can contract with one another via electronic forms on their personal computers.
The system was formally kicked off in April 1998 when Avalon Products, a New Jersey importer, used it to buy $21,600 worth of baby strollers from Most-Brite, a Taiwan manufacturer.
NationsBank Corp., now BankAmerica Corp., granted credit for the transaction. Most-Brite received the payment in its account with Standard Chartered Bank.