Bartercard uses in-house software for global effort

Australian financial services firm Bartercard has revealed it will use homegrown enterprise applications to launch its planned international trade network.

Bartercard CIO Jason Van said his main concern for the company's progress into international trading involved replacing inefficient ERP software incapable of managing such a high number of transactions.

"There's no available software in the marketplace that caters for the volume of trade that we do - about $2 billion in transactions annually," Van said. "My reasons for joining [Bartercard] weren't for [advancing] smartcard or Eftpos technology, but to clean up all the software in the trade exchange."

Van rejected foreign-owned software from the likes of SAP and Oracle, instead choosing to create applications tailored to Bartercard's specific needs.

As well as designing its own ERP system, the company created an online shopping mall similar to eBay, which is used as an online banking and global clearing house.

The global clearing house, which Van describes as the company's "most important facet," will allow Bartercard customers to trade internationally by attributing a local trade value to consumer goods, similar to the stock exchange.

"The clearing house allows a trade dollar for every country to be valued against the normal currency of that country; for example one American trade dollar equals 76 Australian cents," he said.

Bartercard transactions mirror credit cards where members buy and sell products and services; however, the exchange medium is a trade dollar. Businesses are able to offset cash expenses by using their own goods and services as payment via the Bartercard network, therefore only paying replacement product costs.

Van said in linking Bartercard's separated international trade offices into a global network it would need 95 percent of its trading to occur via electronic media such as smartcards and Eftpos which will require infrastructure upgrades.

"To allow international trading, software had to be improved," he said. "We implemented mobile phone and SMS card reader gateways and hardware similar to what banks use, all of which have been deployed in line with smartcard standards. We see smartcard technology as the vehicle behind supplying Bartercard currency globally."

He said for Bartercard to acquire the technology it would need to butter up the banks by increasing the value of the trade market.

"We need to expand Bartercard into new business as part of our acquisition plan," Van said. "We add more businesses which adds more value to the trade exchange which then returns value to the banks. As a result the banks are more likely to give us access to financial solutions such as Eftpos that drives smartcards."