UK Trade Groups See Opportunity in Document Bill Under Debate in Parliament

The U.K.’s Electronic Trade Document Bill was described as a great local and global opportunity by trade association representatives testifying in Parliament on Thursday.

Currently under debate, the bill could enable blockchain technology to be used as a way to store trade documents electronically. Under current regulations, these documents need to be kept and transported in paper form which can be a cumbersome task, Hannah Gilbert, Policy Advisor at the UK Chamber of Shipping explained. Tests have proven electronic documents can be transported in minutes, as opposed to the current system where they must pass through numerous parties, Gilbert said.

“This bill provides a lot of opportunity for business,” Gilbert said.

Chris Southworth, Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce, said the bill could have an impact globally. It is a £1.2 trillion opportunity for the Commonwealth, an association consisting of 56 countries, he claimed, calling the proposed law "a template," and one that could facilitate talks with countries like Singapore, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, among others, who are considering their own versions.

Though hacking remains an issue, electronic documents still are safer and more secure than paper documents, Sean Edwards, Chairman of the International Trade and Forfaiting Association said.

The Electronic Trade Document Bill will continue being debated in Parliament's second chamber, the House of Lords.

Other crypto-related bills under discussion by U.K. lawmakers include the Financial Services and Markets Bill to give regulators more power, and the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill.

Read more: UK Discussing Bill That Could See Trade Documents Stored Using Blockchain