communications network, have approved in principle a project to develop, with the Through Transport Club, an electronic system for trade finance, to be called Bolero. Swift chief executive Leonard Schrank said trade finance needs electronic processing, because a single shipping container can require more than 1,000 pounds of documentation. A trade finance initiative makes sense for Swift - the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication - because a minority of Through Transport Club members are banks. Mr. Schrank said Swift brings a global banking membership and has the technology and trust to provide standards, communications, and a repository. Mr. Schrank said "the past is littered with failed initiatives" in trade electronic data interchange. When the Bolero Association proposed a year ago that Swift develop the system, 40 of the association's 100 members were banks, Mr. Schrank said. The two sides will draft a contract in the coming months and present a business plan to the Swift board in December, he added. Jean-Marie Weydert, Swift's newly elected chairman, said the Bolero initiative should result in a substantial benefit to banks and their customers. "We would expect to make a profit because when you give good service, you can make money," he said. "Banks want to offer better and faster services. Swift will show a profitable business case, but the real benefit is the value we deliver to members - it should be substantial." Mr. Schrank said he expects European central banks to decide within a few months whether to use Swift as the communications provider or the proposed gross settlement system known as Target - Trans-European Automated Real Time Gross Settlement Express Transfer system. Mr. Schrank said it would be a good deal for Swift and would benefit the banks because they wouldn't have to build new connections. Though Swift sees no direct-payments role for the Internet, Mr. Schrank said, it will begin using it to distribute reports and documents on subjects such as standards, in which confidentiality is not a major concern. He said the Internet could sharply reduce the need for distributing paper reports and proposals. Mr. Groenfeldt is a freelance writer.
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