ICC announce the revision of the Uniform Rules for Bank Payment Obligations (URBPO)


ICC Banking Commission Digitalisation of Trade Finance Working Group: Approved EXCO mandate for revision of URBPO 

As discussed in the Banking Commission Executive Committee call of 7 March 2018. 


The Banking Commission Executive Committee has authorized the Steering Committee of the Digitalisation Working Group to proceed with a revision of the Uniform Rules for Bank Payment Obligations (URBPO). 


Under the auspices of the ICC Working Group on Digitalisation in Trade Finance, the ICC Banking Commission created a sub-stream for BPO that included three objectives: 

1. Marketing and Awareness of BPO in its current state. 

2. Revision of the URBPO to include the roles and responsibilities of buyers and sellers and modify it to address conditions within distributed ledger technologies (DLT) that create obligations. 

3. Address in conjunction with the “standards” stream of the digitalisation working group data standards which improve the Trade Services Utility (TSU) and/or lay the framework for smart contracts and other data enablers to support DLT. 

The initial aim of the second objective was to evaluate the existing URBPO in order to determine whether a revision of the rules would be required. 

Rationale for revision of URBPO 

As mentioned in the introduction to the URBPO rules, the scope of the rules lies solely in the bank-to-bank space as agreed in the memorandum of understanding signed between ICC and SWIFT in September 2011. The URBPO do not cover the interaction between a bank and their corporate client. 

However, it was recognised at the time of drafting that, at a future indeterminate date, a ‘phase 2’ would be required in order to address incorporation of the buyer and seller into the rules (including, but not limited to, the four corner model for Supply Chain Finance). In view of the fact that many ICC National Committees had requested such an objective, the concept of a ‘phase 2’ was openly communicated at various Banking Commission plenary sessions. 

In addition, with the advent of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) & Blockchain applications, there is a further need for a form of risk mitigation. As such, modification of the URBPO is required in order to address conditions within DLT technologies that create an obligation to pay and facilitate financing. 

Provided the rules can be revised to accommodate such progress, the BPO can serve as a framework for risk mitigation in the emerging technologies. 

Composition of Group 

The group, chaired by Mike Quinn, is a sub-stream of the ‘e-compatibility of ICC Rules’ work stream co-chaired by David Meynell and Gary Collyer. Pursuant to National Committee recommendations, a core drafting team with the necessary skills is now in place. 

Next Steps 

The BPO sub-stream is to proceed with the revision of URBPO in order to incorporate buyer and seller and to take note of emerging technologies. Any further changes will be identified as the drafting work progresses. 

An outline of the overall aims of the BPO sub-stream to be presented at the ICC Banking Commission Annual Meeting in Miami, April 2018. 

National Committees and members will be given the chance to review and comment on the drafts provided by the working group. Either an initial revision of URBPO, or an outline of work-to-date, will be made available in time for the ICC Banking Commission Technical Meeting in Georgia, October 2018. 

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