Trade Information

Bank Payment Obligation

In 2013, the ICC issued its rules known as the Uniform Rules for Bank Payment Obligation (URBPO). These rules were seen, at the time, as a gateway for banks to offer services in the open account space; not just by offering financing products but also in the delivery of reporting services etc. Based on the matching of data elements, as opposed to the physical examination of paper documents, it was hoped that this product would entice banks to look beyond current paper-driven offerings and help facilitate the transition of trade finance into the digital world.

The rules themselves were not new. Since 2007, SWIFT had produced what were known as the TSU rules. TSU standing for 'Trade Servivce Utlilty', the platform on which the delivery and routing of ISO 20022 messages were handled. These messages contained various types of data ranging from the establishment of a transaction, to an amendment thereof ,and, finally, the data relating to the actual shipment of the goods that had been made. It should be noted that paper shipping documents would still exist and the required data would be extracted from those documents and inserted into the specific ISO message for the automatic matching of data to occur.

However, due to the use of ISO 20022 messages, the product was bank-to-bank based. All interactions between the buyer or seller and its respective bank was outside the rules and the TSU. The URBPO made specific reference to a transaction matching application, of which the SWIFT TSU was the only one in existence at the time.

Unfortunately, despite positive interest at the outset, the volume of transactions have not met the market or SWIFT's expectations. 

Earlier in 2019, SWIFT announced that it will unplug the TSU platform in December 2020. At this time, it is not known whether another organisation will step in and keep the product available or whether it will completely cease to operate. The decision to close down the platform will not be greeted well by a number of banks. In February 2019, the BPO Commercialisation Group that consists of representatives from ANZ, BNP, Commerzbank, JP Morgan, MUFG, Standard Chartered and UniCredit announced "The group has proposed an update to the Uniform Rules for Bank Payment Obligation (URBPO), extending them to better reflect the direct benefit the BPO offers to corporates and to enable risk mitigation in other emerging technologies. It is hoped that, with this measure, more corporates will seek BPO transactions - in turn placing more pressure on their banks to adopt the instrument." The announcement also stated that around 40 banks were offering BPO trade financing.

ICC Documents - Non-Bank Issuer of Letters of Credit

There are often questions raised as to whether a letter of credit issued by a non-bank financial institution may be made subject to UCP 600. In 2002, the ICC tackled this topic by issuing an Opinion under reference R505 (TA537). Until this day, and due to the importance of its contents, it is the only Opinion that can be found published on the ICC's website. The content of the Opinion can be found at the following link: 

Non-Bank issuer of Letters of Credit

ICC Global Trade Surveys 2017-2018

IIn February 2009, the ICC first commissioned a global survey to obtain reliable quantitative and qualitative data on the impact of current market conditions at that time on the delivery of trade finance, and an outline of future expectations for the marketplace. To highlight the impact of the credit crisis at the time, the survey questions targeted trends occurring in trade finance operations in banks between Q4 2007 and Q4 2008. At the time, Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization commented "The ICC has been instrumental in mobilizing the international community by completing its Global Survey on Trade Finance, and delivering strong recommendations ahead of the London G20 Summit." 

The ICC has since commissioned further surveys in subsequent years and a copy of the 2017 and 2018 survey can be downloaded from the following link:

ICC Global Trade Surveys 2017-2018

The ICC did not issue a survey document in 2019.

Incoterms 2010 (soon to be joined by Incoterms 2020)

The revision of Incoterms 2000 was approved by the ICC's Commercial Law & Practice Commission with an implementation date of 1 January 2011. These rules are known as Incoterms 2010. The ICC has published three booklets covering the use of Incoterms: Incoterms 2010 (the rules themselves) in Publication No. 715, the ICC Guide to Incoterms 2010 in Publication No. 720 and an Incoterms 2010 Q&A in Publication No. 744.

12 September 2019 - ICC released Incoterms 2020 which becomes effective on 1 January 2020. It is to be noted that any of the previous Incoterms rules may continue to be used by buyers and sellers, if agreed. The ICC publication number for Incoterms 2020 is 723. 

Incoterms is a registered trademark of the ICC.  

International Standard Banking Practice (ISBP)

At the ICC Banking Commission held in Brussels in November 2009, it was agreed that the ICC would commence a revision of ISBP. When the content of the ISBP was last changed (2007) it was to coincide with the implementation of UCP 600 and reflected textual changes to match those in UCP 600 and the removal of two paragraphs where the practices were changed by the content of UCP 600 (1. that the date of dispatch shown in a notation on an air waybill will be considered to be the date of shipment, even if not called for in the credit (sub-article 23 (a) (iii)) and 2.  that exclusion clauses appearing on insurance documents will be acceptable (sub-article 28 (i)).

On 17 April 2013, the ICC Banking Commission approved the final draft of the ISBP and it has been published under ICC Publication No. 745. 

Requesting an official Opinion from the ICC

February 2015 - ICC released an updated document relating to the process to be followed when requesting an ICC Opinion. ICC Opinions may now be requested in relation to transactions subject to URF (Uniform Rules for Forfaiting) and URBPO (Uniform Rules for Bank Payment Obligations). For details Opinion Handling Procedure and Terms of Reference.pdf 

URDG 758

The final draft of the URDG 758 was approved by the ICC Banking Commission on 24 November 2009. The following day, the ICC's Commercial Law and Practice Commission also conveyed their agreement to the final text. The rules came into effect on 1 July 2010.

Recent News

New platform for conducting Bank Payment Obligation (BPO) transactions 19/11/2019

In our news item of 7 May 2019, we reported that SWIFT had decided to decommission their Trade Service Utility (TSU) platform and transaction matching application with effect from December 2020...more

ICC issues supplement to the Commentary on eUCP Version 2.0 and eURC Version 1.0. 18/11/2019

The eUCP 2...more