A world of advancements

A world of advancements

Time to reap the benefits of cross-border payments integration.

Delivering a competitive edge for your business

Ross Jones and Divyesh Modi analyse the positive impact that new solutions, regulations and standards will have on payments and trade finance. From greater speed and efficiency to improved trust and security, Corporate Treasurers should be best placed to take advantage of these changes.

Ross Jones

Head of Payments Product Management, Barclays Corporate Banking

Divyesh Modi

Managing Director, Head of UK Trade and Working Capital Sales, Barclays Corporate Banking

The world of the Treasurer is evolving

Rather than treating changes in the payments landscape and trade finance space separately, Treasurers are uniquely placed to integrate these into a seamless activity that unlocks value to support:


Working Capital

Integral to mitigating business risk and managing cash flow effectively.



Greater visibility of trade finance and payment activities for the organisation.



A more transparent and resilient relationship with suppliers and customers.

Reports - Interest


Lower costs with increased productivity, whilst adding profit to your bottom line.



Investing in the right payments solutions can help reduce fraud.



Less errors, quicker processing, more automated and customisable processes across the end-to-end transaction.

New ways to conduct trade

Trade digitisation has been moving at a very slow pace but this is about to change on the back of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) – a uniform model law that was adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in 2017. It allows the use of transferable documents and instruments such as bills of lading, warehouse receipts, bills of exchange and promissory notes in electronic form. A number of countries have already adopted this into local law and the UK joined this group in July 2023. It will remove the need to courier documents and enable:

a reduction in working capital as goods are no longer waiting for the paperwork

less fraud by creating more transparency over the flow of goods and information

faster settlement as certain aspects of workflow can be automated

greater transparency to suppliers and customers.

The use of paper-based processes places a burden on businesses seeking to trade internationally. According to a recent International Chamber of Commerce UK report1, the introduction of the MLETR ruling will provide a number of benefits for companies:

35% improvement in business efficiency. 1
92% expect digitisation to speed up trade finance processes. 1
13% anticipate an increase in international business for SMEs.

The Treasurer will be involved in some element of trade financing in most companies. It may be light touch – just dealing with foreign currency, settlements or cash forecasting or they may be more heavily involved with selecting financial counterparties and supply chain finance. With the passage of the Electronic Trade Documentation Act 2023 by the UK Parliament, Treasurers in the UK should anticipate an impetus in the digitisation of trade instruments not only from their bank, but from suppliers like ports, logistics providers and custom authorities also.

New trade agreements offer companies the opportunity to expand into new markets. With this comes risk. However, current arrangements for managing trade are dependent on the use of paper – a process that hasn’t materially altered in centuries.

Divyesh Modi

Managing Director, Head of UK Trade and Working Capital Sales, Barclays Corporate Banking

Developments in the payments landscape

Cross-border payment systems play a crucial role in the global economy. But many Corporate Treasurers are beginning to find their payment systems are stuck in the past, with systems becoming embedded with manual, fixed and slow processes.

Changes in the payments landscape are happening today, driven by a cocktail of technological advances, evolving customer and supplier expectations, regulatory developments and the need for improved efficiency and clarity. Historical rigidity is being replaced with greater flexibility as new payment methods are being rolled out.


Enhances speed of cross-border payments, improves transparency and traceability.

ISO 20022

Enables the transmission of richer data and allows more information to be included with the payment instruction. Benefits include straight-through-processing, less counterparty risk and processing errors, plus a reduction of overall costs.

New local immediate payment schemes

These are being implemented on a rolling basis with more than 70 countries already operating new payment rails.2

A variety of alternatives

The greater range of payment options mean that Treasurers in the future will have a greater level of choice for settlement, depending on factors such as value and urgency.

These choices may affect cashflows and working capital and coupled with the Treasurer’s responsibility for ensuring efficient, secure payment processes, it is essential they understand key aspects when reviewing their systems.

  • Do payment options integrate seamlessly with other corporate systems, such as TMS or ERP systems?
  • Are they providing valuable insights?
  • Do they deliver clear visibility over cross-border transactions?
  • Are they secure, but do they also offer the flexibility demanded by trade partners around the world?
  • Will they be fit for purpose tomorrow and have the flexibility and adaptability to keep pace with changes?

Building an integrated solution

Developments in both trade and payments means increased transparency and visibility for Corporate Treasurers. Managing trade and cross-border payments effectively is vital to any business, so exploring alternative payment options that can offer competitive fees, exchange rates and even the opportunity to negotiate price based on settlement currency is incredibly important.

Analysing payment data can also support negotiations with payment providers to provide more efficient and lower costs services. This can be dynamically reviewed to ensure charges and rules reflect the current needs of the business.

Ross Jones

Head of Payments Product Management, Barclays Corporate Banking

Commercially driven Treasurers will give their companies greater confidence to scale their international activities. Reduced friction, greater transparency and faster payments will remove barriers to such operations, which can often leave businesses in limbo between delivering goods and services and receiving payments. The same will naturally apply to paying suppliers, improving their resilience and creating the ability to offer better terms.

It makes business sense to continually think about trade and payments solutions together and understand the advantages they can bring to a successful company.

Four things to consider

1. Keep up to date with trade finance developments

Monitor the latest updates from industry publications like Global Trade Review (GTR) as well as talking to your bank trade finance specialist to understand new legislation, payment standards and how they will improve payment processes.

2. Understand cross-border payments and regulatory change

The Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT) are an excellent source and can provide information in addition to speaking to your bank or cross-border provider around SWIFT gpi and standards such as ISO 20022. The impact they will have on payment systems – data, speed and transparency will all figure in these discussions.

3. Payment flows and trading activity

Understand the links between the two to ensure the right use of high value/low volume and high volume/low value local payment schemes. Review your trade finance and payments operating model. This will help to determine if tools such as currency accounts and regional processing hubs are appropriate.

4. The working capital impact

Consider this in relation to your present trade finance and payments model. Could you drive more efficiency through currency accounts? Is your working capital optimised with the right trade finance instruments? Ensure your arrangements are being dynamically reviewed to guarantee they continue to provide the best commercial outcome for the business, its suppliers and customers.

Your next steps

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