Electronic Commerce: Important Developments for the Future

Article excerpt

Many important developments have taken place that influence treasury and credit management functions. In the international arena, the international EDI language of electronic commerce, called the United Nations EDI for Administration, Commerce, and Transport (UN/EDIFACT), is now gaining momentum because several standard messages are available and are being used internationally. Companies in the U.S., seriously considering initiating an EDI strategy should understand UN/EDIFACT thoroughly.

Companies in countries where national standards have never existed are adopting UN/EDIFACT as their initial EDI standard of choice, for both domestic and international commerce.

Representatives from 25 countries attended the annual Electronic Data Interchange Association (EDIA) Users Conference held in conjunction with the EDI Council of Canada. Many of these countries have national EDI movements, and EDI associations are facilitating "doing business electronically." The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has announced a World Symposium on Trade Efficiency, to be held in Columbus, Ohio in October of 1994. Ministers, chief executives, and senior officials from UNCTAD's 188 member countries will join to create an open and universal environment for efficient trade. The symposium will focus on new technologies in the fields of banking, insurance, transport telecommunications, and information for trade. The promotion of international data exchange standards for electronic commerce will be a key component.

"UNCLE SAM" LEADS THE EDI WAY

What is happening closer to home? The federal government is becoming a major EDI user organization, which has implications for all of us. Uncle Sam now has senior management support from President Clinton. The implementation timetable is ambitious and aggressive. Several agencies already have implemented and integrated EDI into their processes such as the U.S. Customs Service and the Defense Logistics Agency of the Department of Defense. Movement of funds is a significant activity for these major government agencies, and collecting and disbursing electronically will, in all probability, be a future requirement .

Several EDI initiatives are also underway with respect to NAFTA. …