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A UK initiative to digitise trade documents could make use of technologies that underlie crypto, the government has said.

The Electronic Trade Documents Act 2023, which officially became law on July 20, stands to reverse centuries-old merchant laws to allow trade documents to be stored and distributed digitally, reports Coindesk. The laws are set to take effect this autumn.

The act is technology neutral and will allow the use of blockchain technology if it meets the reliability test, a government spokesperson told CoinDesk.

The Law Commission for England and Wales, the independent statutory body that drafted the bill, estimates that billions of papers are passed around annually with global shipments, because that’s the only way they can be transported.

The act’s significance “is that it allows electronic documents to be treated as legally analogous to paper if they meet certain criteria,” Law Commissioner Sarah Green told CoinDesk in an emailed statement, adding that blockchain technology happens to be one of the means by which such documents can meet those criteria.

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