Our research programme

Our research programme works with practitioners, economists and academics to provide impartial evidence of barriers and identify solutions to accelerate the digitalisation of trade. If you would like to work with us to commission research, please contact us.

Business cases for digitalising documents of title

In 2021, we commissioned two UK business cases to identify the value of digitalising commercial trade documents.


  • £225 billion in efficiency savings
  • £25 billion in SME trade growth
  • 80% cut in trade transaction costs
  • Reduce average cross-border compliance processing time from 25 days to 1 day
  • The studies also discovered low adoption rates of legal entity identifiers (LEI) – digital identities for trade. Only 4% of UK trading companies are registered to use an LEI, and these are almost entirely financial institutions.

We also provided G7 and German business cases and supported a Commonwealth business case. In total, the case for digitalising commercial trade documents covers over 60 economies, large and small. The reports paved the way for the Electronic Trade Documents Act and G7 Ministerial Commitment to remove legal barriers to digitalising documents of title. They can be downloaded from the ICC Digital Standards Initiative website.

Shutting fraudsters out of trade

Trade and finance systems are too often manual and paper-based when they should be using smart technology solutions. Our 2022 ‘Shutting fraudsters out of trade’ report calls for the adoption of existing technologies such as Legal Entity Identifiers (LEIs), digital ledgers, invoice number tracking, APIs between revenue departments and banks as well as regulators enabling banks to share fraud data, all of which will help shut fraudsters out of the system. The report has resulted in a duplicate finance project with UK banks, working with MonetaGo as the technology partner, learning from experiences in India and Singapore.


Legacy systems, poor market coordination, regulators not being proactive enough to enable banks to share data and governments being too passive are all part of the problem in preventing fraud. The economic opportunity is huge at national and international level and the solutions are available. For any government with stretched public finances looking for economic growth, tackling fraud has to be on the list of priorities. The same solutions that prevent fraud also help tackle tax evasion. There is a real opportunity here for government and industry to work together. This report should be a wake-up call to business and government alike to act now.

-Chris Southworth, Secretary General, ICC United Kingdom