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Will e-commerce BOLERO-off sooner rather than later?

This report explains the progress BOLERO is making with plans to launch some fundamental building blocks for international e-commerce. This exciting development should finally kick-start e-commerce for the widest possible range of business entities – from the smallest to the largest.
( May 1999 )


BOLERO services are being developed by Bolero International Ltd which is owned and managed by SWIFT and TT Club (the Through Transport Club). SWIFT (the Society for Worldwide Financial Telecommunications) is owned by 2,941 member banks and serves over 6,500 financial institutions in 181 countries. SWIFT processes about 4 million financial messages between its customers each day. TT Club is a mutual insurance association which was formed in 1970 and has over 5,000 members, including shipping lines, terminal operators, port authorities, freight forwarders and container leasing companies, in over 80 countries.

BOLERO will act as a "trusted third party" in receiving Internet carried email messages from senders and delivering them to receivers, again via the Internet. BOLERO will wrap each message in an ‘envelope’ which will enable it to;

guarantee that the message was sent by the person claiming to have sent it
and on behalf of the organisation that person represents;

guarantee that the message contents were not changed during transmission 

witness the time of dispatch by the sender and the time of receipt by the addressee.

These are all vital elements necessary to enable the acceptance of electronic messages as substitutes for traditional paper documents.

Initially BOLERO will offer two services which will be of interest;

a "Title Registry Service" and

a message authentication and verification service (with an encryption option).



This service will enable the introduction of the BOLERO BILL OF LADING (BBL). The BBL will be an electronic record of title (ownership and/or rights in goods). It is designed to replace the equivalent traditional paper Bill of Lading (BoL).

There is a keen commercial interest in the BBL which is seen as a means of speeding up the delivery of title and eliminating "Letters of Indemnity for missing documents" (LoI's) which are used to clear goods. LoI's cause many enterprises difficulties since - when they have to be countersigned by banks - they tie up credit lines for long periods. Some BoL chains involve 20+ parties and BoL's can take more than two years to progress to the ultimate receiver of the goods. Many BoL's never complete the journey.



It will be possible for any BOLERO Registered User to use this service to send any email message to any other BOLERO Registered User via the Internet.

In future all shipping documents could be prepared in the form of email messages and passed from entity to entity, in the normal commercial flow, via BOLERO using the Internet.

There are several areas where this service could be useful, for example:

Investment or payment instructions could be sent to banks utilising email requests instead of using Test Key arrangements or bank proprietary systems (instead of a different system for each bank).

Beneficiaries could present electronic documents (including BBL's) to banks under Letters of Credit (LC's).

LC Applicants could open LC’s utilising email requests instead of using Test Key arrangements or bank proprietary systems.



A trial is in progress involving companies such as; Federated Merchandising Group (a Division of Federated Department Stores Inc.); Mobil Sales and Supply Corporation; Cargill Inc.; American President Lines; Allport Freight Ltd; Bank of Boston; Chase Manhattan Bank; Citibank and Chevron. The intent is to thoroughly test the system by duplicating realistic day to day transactions, prior to the public launch later in 1999.

The Bolero Association, which is a special interest group of some 200 enterprises, has been involved in the development of BOLERO representing potential users of the services. New members are welcome to join. Readers interested in learning more about BOLERO should explore the website .

Related websites are; and .


© Copyright Ronald Keith Wells - May 1999

Also refer to a subsequent article titled  "A Project Report"

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