Bringing negotiable instruments into the digital world

We are delighted to share the 2nd edition of ITFA’s manual on digital negotiable instruments, produced in collaboration with members of the DNI Initiative. We are also grateful to Trade Finance Global for helping in our efforts to gain visibility for the second edition. 

This manual describes two key deliverables:

On the legal side, ITFA has created a functionally equivalent instrument – the electronic Payment Undertaking (ePU) – that operates in the same way as the Bill of Exchange and Promissory Note, delivering the benefits of a digital negotiable instrument under English law. The ePU delivers a natively digital irrevocable, unconditional, and independent payment undertaking that fulfils all requirements of a traditional negotiable instrument, albeit subject to contract law rather than common law.

Sean Edwards, Chair, ITFA explains: “Following engagement with the UK Law Commission in which ITFA played an important part, we are very hopeful that the law on electronic instruments will change in 2022 but unless and until that happens, the ePU is ITFA’s immediately available solution for the digitisation of negotiable instruments.”

On the technology side, the ITFA Fintech Committee has produced the dDOC specifications which formalise a technology framework to leverage cryptography and public DLT in a manner that is interoperable with existing practices, systems, and channels. dDOC-compliant documents are natively digital originals that are portable amongst financial institutions, their correspondent banks, their clients, and any third-party platform. We are happy to report such technology is already in implementation by corporates for the presentation of transport documents (CMR) as part of the Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road.

André Casterman, Chair Fintech Committee, ITFA adds: “The dDOC specifications aim to foster collaboration between technology companies and initial proof points have been delivered as both China Systems and Finastra have integrated Enigio’s dDOC-compliant document technology. This is a hybrid approach whereby we combine legacy and new technologies to deliver the shortest time to market and lowest adoption cost.”

In case of interest to join the DNI Initiative, please reach out to ITFA Secretariat via email to In the meantime, we invite you to consult the ITFA manual on digital negotiable instruments and to practice the dDOC Notary Service demo portal. Feel free to register to the upcoming Finastra event on “Network of networks: Tomorrow’s trade ecosystem” featuring ICC, SWIFT, ITFA and Enigio representatives.

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