Letters of Credit Coming Soon via the Internet

First Union and Fasturn partner to provide online B2B financial transaction

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- First Union Corporation and Fasturn, a technology and business solution provider for the apparel industry, are creating the first global, Internet-based financial transaction solution that will allow companies to make high-dollar, global, B2B purchases without leaving the Internet or reentering data.

Until now, B2B exchanges in the apparel industry generally provided electronic invoices, but buyers had to print out invoices and route manually or re-key information into existing enterprise resource planning and banking systems. Fasturn's network captures all the data necessary to populate a purchase order that can be conveyed to third party organizations such as First Union, which will then issue letters of credit. The Fasturn/First Union solution will capture all the traditionally required information including product specifications, quantity, shipment specifications and authorizations for letters of credit directly within the Fasturn site.

When a buyer using this new system submits an order to one of the thousands of Fasturn factories worldwide, the original order data is converted to one or multiple purchase orders and is then transferred to First Union. The logic within First Union's AutoLC technology will generate and present to the bank's customer the pro-forma LC application within the Fasturn website. Once approved by First Union, the letter of credit will be instantly transmitted to First Union's Global Operations Centers for issuance. The technology will also allow for purchase orders and letters of credit to be amended through a single operating platform. After the initial release of this capability in December, it is anticipated that First Union and Fasturn will integrate the Bank's CyberXport, which will enable vendors to see "real-time" LCs issued in their favor without having to wait for their local bank to mail out the hard copy.

This complete integration of the procurement and financial processes will benefit the buyer because it eliminates duplicate data input, enhances accuracy, speeds the entire transaction process, improves cash flow, allows real-time letter of credit status updates, decreases discrepancies and reduces costs.

"This is the first truly integrated letter of credit solution within a sophisticated e-commerce offering," said Simon Constantinides, director within First Union's Global Trade Services Group. "Until this time, cross-border B2B e-commerce transactions, requiring credit support in excess of credit card thresholds, were initiated and settled outside of core B2B e-commerce environments albeit through a web-based platform. By working with Fasturn, First Union will be able to provide true web-based letter of credit processing capabilities to its clients within the Fasturn direct procurement network."

Large-scale financial transactions have, until now, remained offline because of technological constraints, legal obstacles (e.g. making digital signatures valid on legal documents) and the lack of participation from a truly global financial institution like First Union. With recent changes in the law and the partnering of Fasturn and First Union, all of the previous hurdles are a little lower. The open architecture of the Fasturn solution also allows integration to other Fasturn partners such as insurance, inspection, financial and logistics service providers.

"We are very excited to offer the apparel industry the first truly global, on-line, B2B financial solution that both our Global Marketplace and Private Marketplace customers can benefit from. By joining forces with a globally established and innovative bank like First Union for the design and implementation of front and back office support, this first-to-market solution will give the mutual customers of Fasturn and First Union a significant savings in time and expense as well as improved accuracy regarding global financial transactions and documentation," said Belita Ong, senior vice president, Business Development, Fasturn.