Electronic payments may be the hottest topic in e-commerce circles today -at last count there were over 200 private and public companies in the U.S. market offering technologies and/or services that support e- payments over the Internet. But if recent events are any indication, trade finance may be the next area of B-to-B commerce that is pushed into the world of electronic exchanges.

Not that it will be an easy process. Experts say it could prove more difficult than the transition from checks to electronic payments. "It's an enormously complicated process," says Dave Medeiros, director of the global payments practice at TowerGroup, Needham, MA. "There are so many different agents that have to be networked."

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