Trading foreign exchange via the Internet has matured in just a few years from a technological novelty to a standard way of doing business. While companies initially started trading electronically because it promised faster, easier price discovery and tighter pricing, some now are deriving even more benefits by using it as a gateway to straight-through processing.

Straight-through processing means being able to do a trade and then convey the data about the trade back into the company's accounting system without re-keying any information. That doesn't sound like an earth-shattering development, but it can save companies a lot of time. One company, General Electric Co., has taken the concept even further by building hedge documentation into its system.

Geri Westphal, assistant treasurer of Oracle Corp., says achieving STP has saved Oracle's treasury staff three to four days a month. Oracle, which does 80 to 100 foreign exchange trades a month, used to manually consolidate the data about subsidiaries' foreign exchange exposures, prepare foreign exchange trade tickets and then enter the information about completed trades into another spreadsheet. Now, the financials module of Oracle 11i pulls the trade information from the system's payables, receivables and investment data, and the trades are consolidated in the trade blotter of FXall, a foreign exchange trading platform.

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