February 07, 2003

When Valley National Bank went looking for an improved trade finance system, it discovered that the best solution lay right at its doorstep. The Wayne, N.J.-based institution has increased the number of users of IBSnet, a trade finance system from Toronto-based Surecomp, from 20 to 35.

Through its acquisition last year of Merchants Bank of New York, Valley National has expanded its trade finance business. Daily volume is about $214 million, divided between the bank's New Jersey and New York locations (the latter acquired from Merchants), said Sandra Seville, first vice president at $9 billion Valley National.

The New York office already uses IBSnet. The New Jersey office will begin using it this year.

In addition to expanding its workload, the bank is also aiming to move some of its international work onto the Internet. To that end, it has licensed netIMEX, a companion product to IBSnet that performs online trade financing.

Valley National upgraded to a new version of IBSnet to accommodate netIMEX, said Kermit Dyke, first senior vice president and head of international finance at Valley National.

IBSnet runs the gamut of trade financing transactions: import and export letters of credit, accounting, document generation, commissions and fees, collections, payments, guarantees, a variety of financing methods and more.

Surecomp acquired IBSnet when it bought Morgan Laboratories, a Calif.-based tech company, about 18 months ago. Merchants Bank had licensed Morgan's trade finance system prior to its acquisition by Valley National.

Valley National decided to stick with IBSnet because it wanted a system that's NT- and Windows-based, Seville said.

Also, it "wanted the capability of doing letter-of-credit applications through the Internet," Dyke said. Today, customers must fax paper applications to the bank.

Since acquiring Morgan, Surecomp has "invested quite a bit in the IBSnet product," added James Black, Surecomp's vice president. For example, it's designed for easy installation, operating on Windows."The competition would take a year or two to install. We install in three months... you don't need a consultant for a year to help you install the system."

The online service will help Valley National recruit and hold onto customers, Dyke said. The option of doing business online will mean businesses "will stick with us the next time Citibank walks in the door."