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essDOCS enables first ever electronic Bill of Lading transaction under Singapore Law

electronic bill of lading
Electronic Transactions Act
Digital Trade
Jinchuan Group
Ocean Network Express
trade finance

essDOCS recently enabled the first ever electronic Bill of Lading (eB/L) transaction governed by Singapore law.

The milestone transaction follows Singapore’s 2021 amendment to its Electronic Transactions Act (ETA) – adopting the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) which grants eB/Ls the same legal status as paper equivalents – as well as the incorporation of Singapore law recognizing eB/Ls in essDOCS’ eDocs Services & Users Agreement (DSUA 2021.1).

The transaction involved the sale of nickel matte in containers by BHP to Jinchuan Group, under a letter of credit (LC). The trade was supported by National Australia Bank (Hong Kong branch) acting as advising bank on behalf of BHP and a leading Chinese trade finance bank acting as issuing bank on behalf of Jinchuan Group, for cargo shipped on an Ocean Network Express (ONE) vessel from Australia to China.

Transaction highlights included:

  • First ever electronic bill of lading issued in accordance with the Singapore Electronic Transactions Act:
    • ONE’s bills of lading are governed by Singapore law, and therefore the Electronic Transaction Act (ETA), as amended in 2021, together with the 2021.1 version of the DSUA, apply to ensure the validity of this CargoDocs eB/L and the electronic endorsement of the bill through the trade chain
    • While CargoDocs eB/Ls have been in use since 2010, this is the first issued under the ETA
  • Online, real-time collaboration between container line ONE, seller BHP, buyer Jinchuan, National Australia Bank (advising bank) and a Chinese trade finance bank (issuing bank): using Assemble Cargo Docs to draft and approve the CargoDocs eB/L plus relevant supporting docs, and Exchange Title Docs to sign, issue, transfer and electronically present the eB/L plus supporting docs
    • Specifically, the end-to-end documentation process was completed electronically in under 48 hours, compared to days (or even weeks) required in a traditional, paper-based transaction
    • 100% of documents required under the LC were presented electronically

Commenting on the recent transaction, BHP’s Chief Commercial Officer, Vandita Pant, said: “At BHP, we are committed to continuously exploring avenues, together with our customers, to digitalise trade processes across the value chain with the adoption of the latest innovations enabled by technology. Regulatory reform will play a critical role during this transition and we firmly support efforts such as Singapore’s ETA. We were pleased that essDOCS enabled the first ever electronic Bill of Lading (eB/L) transaction governed by Singapore law between BHP and Jinchaun. This transaction is a significant milestone for digitalising global commodities trade and we are thrilled to lead the way on a journey with the aim of achieving digital trade at scale.”

The essDOCS Team looks forward to continuing to support metals supply chain stakeholders in their ongoing journey to 100% digital trade docs.


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