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Japanese banks sign up for bolero.net

Since going "live" last September 27, Bolero has announced that a number of leading companies have signed up to the system including Mitsui, Evergreen and Sanwa.

"We have also seen a tremendous level of interest from the international business community. We aren't a bricks and mortar business and so our website essentially serves as our shop-front. At the moment, we are averaging 5,000 unique visitors a month, which for a specialist business to business web is excellent. Around 5,000 legal and technical documents are additionally being downloaded by site visitors. Ninety percent of enquiries are coming from our main markets of the US, the major EU states, Japan and the major Far East markets," said Dirk Singer, corporate communications head of Bolero.

The first bolero.net agency has opened in Japan, BSB Solutions Ltd, which now has its own web-site (www.bsbs.co.jp). The major shareholders in BSB include Mitsui and Sanwa Bank. BSB Solutions Ltd will act as a gateway server to bolero.net's Bolero System, and will also provide sales and consultancy services for "bolero.net enabled" products and interfaces that are being developed by third parties. BSB will be based in Tokyo. The director will be Hiroshi Haneda, who until recently headed up Sanwa Bank︿ Payment Solutions Project.

Interoperability

"Over the next month we will also be opening up a new interoperability section of our website. The Interoperability project is an important factor which is helping us to establish bolero.net as a global standard," said Singer.

Interoperability is the term used to describe the ability of different computer systems to work together, facilitating business transactions across organisations. At the moment, if you send a piece of data or a document electronically, there is no guarantee that s/he will be able to read it at the other end. The Interoperability project will allow all members of the bolero.net community to exchange information in a simple way, instantly readable by humans and computers. A series of XML templates for common trade documents is being created苛for example, for purchase orders, seaway bills, and shipping instructions.

XML is essentially the more advanced relative of HTML (until now the common language of the Internet). XML will allow machine to machine as well as human to human interoperability. "Essentially the ultimate aim of our interoperability project is to make straight-through processing a reality," explained Singer.

bolero.net is the "shop-front" of the Bolero electronic trade community that is moving crossborder commerce onto the Internet. Launched at the end of September, bolero.net is a global initiative, owned by the world's logistics and banking communities, to facilitate paperless international trade via the Internet. The Bolero system allows for the secure electronic transmission of business data and documents among all elements of the trade chain. Its benefits are aimed at all participants in the international trade chain: exporters, importers, banks, freight forwarders, carriers, ports, custom authorities and insurers.

Bolero is aimed at providing a common, open system by which businesses can exchange trade documents and data via the Internet. Bolero.net acts as a neutral third party to ensure secure delivery and receipt of the information and provides a legal structure that binds together all users.

Strategic alliance
In end-1999, Bolero.net signed a joint venture agreement with some of Japan's largest corporations. At the same time, Evergreen, one of the world's biggest container fleet operators, has signed up to the system.

Mitsui & Co, Sanwa Bank, Sakura Bank, and Hitachi have formed a strategic alliance that will lead to the creation of Bolero Service Bureau (BSB) Solutions Ltd, a new company that will promote bolero.net in the Japanese market. Mitsui & Co is Japan's biggest trading house, and the fifth largest company in the world (Fortune 500 Global). Sanwa Bank and Sakura Bank are two of Japan's largest banks. Hitachi is a global electronics company with sales of US$65.9 billion.

Japan's largest trading house Mitsui has announced that it will introduce bolero.net into its global operations, as well as taking the lead in signing up customers, suppliers and partners. With an annual turnover of US$116bn, Mitsui's international network spans 900 companies in 93 countries. Bolero.net will be used for the reporting of monthly accounting information from subsidiaries and group companies worldwide, as well as for the exchange of trade documents.

Mitsui expects to be able to start introducing the Bolero system after the implementation of a dedicated gateway server in the Mitsui HQ. bolero.net's secure infrastructure, the range of business and trade data that can be sent over the Bolero system, as well as the significant return on investment that Mitsui would see led to the decision.

BSB Solutions Ltd will act as bolero.net's sales agency in Japan, helping exporters, importers, freight forwarders and financial institutions sign up to bolero.net.

Endorsing marks

Three different 'endorsing marks' have been developed for members of the bolero.net community. Through the use of the marks, members show customers that they can pass on the value of bolero.net to them:

• "bolero.net connected" is for anyone who has enrolled and is using the system.
• "bolero.net enabled" describes a product / interface that offers connectivity to the Bolero system.
• "bolero.net partner" describes an organisation with which bolero.net has entered into a long term strategic agreement (for example, a consulting firm which advises clients on how best to leverage bolero.net internally)

Legal framework
bolero.net has developed a unique legal framework for international trade which stemmed from the largest ever study into e-commerce conducted in eighteen different jurisdictions. The result is the Bolero Rule Book, which every member organisation must sign and which allows any dispute to be resolved in the same way as it would with paper documentation.

Pricing takes the form of an annual subscription, which allows unlimited use of the bolero.net service. There are four different price structures 苛 basic, corporate, enterprise and premier.

Enterprise and premier organisations will be able to sign their suppliers up at a substantial discount. Depending on the number of users, organisations could spend as little as several thousand dollars on an annual bolero.net subscription. Larger organisations with more users will obviously spend more, but will also see greater savings.