US systems integrator and IT consultancy American Management Systems Inc (AMS), has launched an object-oriented trade finance platform to enable banks to process letters of credit at remote sites around the world, including processing ‘factories’ in countries with low labor costs. The product, called AMS Object TradeLine, takes up where the company’s previous offering in this space, AMS TradeLine, left off, integrating imaging and workflow technologies. Paper documents can be imaged and accessed at a remote site for processing, with the operative who logs in to handle the job receiving a status report from the originating site, where it will have been signed off using the workflow features of the program. If a bank client requests a letter of credit on at 5:00 p.m. in the US, it can be processed somewhere else and authorized by 8pm, without having to wait until the next day, explained Nestor Zwyhun, chief technical officer for the corporate banking group at AMS. The new product is already operational at the First Chicago NBD Bank, in the US, but Fairfax, Virginia-based AMS actually launched it at the SIBOS electronic banking conference last week, in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. The company’s other products include TradeCard, the electronic pro forma purchase order invoicing system marketed by FSTS, a subsidiary of the World Trade Center Association. It involves a private network, serving a ‘club’ to which the participants in the operation must belong so that orders for merchandise are guaranteed trustworthy. The service essentially replaces the letter of credit in all but about 20% of its most sophisticated features, explained Zwyhun. Object TradeLine, on the other hand, is aimed exclusively at major banks serving the kind of large corporations that are constantly engaged in international trade. It automates the LC authorization process, rather than seeking to substitute the LC. Its development was based on the premise, as Zwyhun explained, that LCs are increasingly going to become a commodity, the number of banks issuing them will fall, and those that remain will need to differentiate themselves by their quality of service.