• Efficient commerce - the ICE eCOPS system


    eCOPS, the InterContinental Exchange's (ICE)  Electronic Commodity Operations Processing System, is a prime example of how electronic data processing and transfer are creating efficiency in mainstream coffee commerce.

    In the 1980's it became clear that the ever-growing stream of paper documentation, necessary for the delivery of coffee to the New York futures market could be greatly reduced through computerization. The result was the original COPS (Commodity Operations Processing System) that eliminated many duplicate paper records along with endless phone calls and faxes, thereby saving not only time and costs but also reducing the number of errors. COPS has been operational for some 20 years and has evolved into a web-based electronic system, moving from a closed system that handled only exchange deliveries into one that can handle deliveries for an entire industry.

    ECOPS became fully operational with the March 2004 delivery position on the New York Futures Exchanger, the C-contract, when paper Warehouse Receipts were entirely replaced by negotiable Electronic Warehouse Receipts (EWR's).  Other electronic documents are the Warehouse Bill of Lading (local shipping advice), contract summary, shipping advice, FDA and Customs Entry, sampling order, delivery order, commercial invoice, notice of assignment, trust receipt, weighing request, exchange invoice, notice of transfer, bank release, weight note, sampling confirmation, quality certificate, grade certificate. Most of these are not of direct interest to exporters as such but this range of documents demonstrates a seamless exchange of data, title and, therefore, goods and money.

    ECOPS does include an electronic Maritime Bill of Lading option that in theory enables exporters to link into this entire system.  It should be noted however that the major shipping companies themselves are pursuing their own electronic solution to the bill of lading issue

    The integrity of the eCOPS EWR's and other documentation is ensured by restricting issuance authority to licensed operators only and eCOPS generated ERW's are accepted as collateral by the commercial banking system. All companies who deal with exchange coffee are connected to eCOPS but as yet the system is not widely used for non-exchange goods. However, since 2003 every change of ownership of Exchange Certified Coffee has been successfully tracked by eCOPS, not only in the US but also in the European ports of Antwerp, Hamburg and Bremen. Some coffee warehouses have moved to issuing eCOPS EWRs for all coffee they handle, exchange certified or otherwise.

    However, as mentioned previously, the eCOPS system too has not been able to transform itself into a true B2B electronic market place. For more on eCOPS and updates on further developments go to www.theice.com and look for eCOPS.


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