TradeShift launches to disrupt an entire financial system – And Morten Lund is advising it

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One of the most potentially disruptive startups of the last ten years is emerging into the light this week. And I honestly don’t say that lightly.

Christian Lanng, a former builder of deep e-commerce and security services for the Danish government is co-founder of TradeShift along with a very hard-core team which includes John Bosak who created XML, who is on the board.

But what is perhaps most startling is the re-emergence of early Skype investor Morten Lund on the project. Lund was made famous in tech circles both for his early Skype investment but also for going personally bankrupt two years ago.

TradeShift, which has been operating under the stealth name of Porta till now, is aiming at a very, very big target.

It wants to disrupt how banks and credit card companies process payments between any kind of business, and use the Internet to do it.

For the last 10 months the dozen strong team in Denmark has been building what could be described most simply as an e-invoicing company.

But instead of the kinds of charges levied for credit card processing and other banking systems, transactions will be free across the network, but with the security of being legally binding. That is incredibly disruptive.

Financially it is backed by seed investors and is “currently self sufficient”.

How so? TradeShift has now signed up two undisclosed regions in northern Europe and a yet to be named city in Brazil for its platform. Crucially, it looks like Tradeshift will be hugely beneficial to emerging nations like Brazil which currently are not locked into old EDI systems.

The problem is simple. Businesses still trade on exchanging and printing out PDFs. Neither Microsoft not SAP haven’t solved this. So Tradeshift wants to let global SMEs participate in hard core business processes traditionally ruled by these companies.

Old fashioned Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is dominated by huge IBM mainframes and pre-Internet protocols. Of course, it’s only natural that this should move to cloud computing.

The idea is this. Dynamic invoicing will, instead of being laborious hand-created entities, simply move between companies electronically. Accounts running on Tradeshift will constantly monitor exchange rates and automatically withdraw funds or make purchases just when the price is cheapest for the goods your company requires.

The play is not to go to the US first with this, but for Europe and emerging marketing BRIC nations where their systems are being built right now. Europe is very mature for this sort of thing right now.

At the core is UBL – a messaging standard similar to XML.

The scenario facing businesses right now is 12/13 euro per invoice for existing systems. Make that 100 invoices and it starts to add up.

This information is already available with existing real-time financial systems, so Tradeshift is building a platform on which these transactions can take place seamlessly. It will run its own applications on top of it, but the platform itslef will be made available so that other third party developers to create their own.

Christian Lanng has 10 years of experience as former head of the Center for Service oriented Infrastructure in the Danish National IT and Telecom Agency. In other words he is right at the top of his game in working with mobile-services, e-business, SOA and large scale payment systems.

“Tradeshift will be a like a GSM standard for e-business” Lanng told me at a meeting in London recently.

There is an already existing “GSM-like” movement to create electronic standards across Europe. PEPPOL, Pan European Public Procurement Online is a vision to allow any company (incl. SMEs) in the EU to communicate electronically with any EU governmental institution for all procurement processes. The difference is that Tradeshift reckons it’s going to crack this for business to business transactions, and globally, not just in Europe.

The core team is 13 people in Copenhagen, but includes people in Germany, Brazil and Sri Lanka, and totals up to 50 working on this.

  • Ray

    “The problem is simple. Businesses still trade on exhancging and printing out PDFs. Microsoft and SAP haven’t solved this. So Tradeshift wants to let global SMEs to participate in hard core business processes traditionally ruled by these companies.”

    A spelling and grammatical error in that sentence.

    • dave

      “John Bosack who created XML”

      should read

      “Jon Bosak who lead the creation of the XML spec”


      • Christian Lanng (CEO Tradeshift)

        Yep, it is in fact Jon Bosak, one of the leads on XML and cocreator of UBL :)

  • TradeShift Launches To Disrupt The Financial System – And Morten Lund Is Advising It |™

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  • Tom Geyser

    Finally someone disrupting the monopoly of legacy EDI. Interesting to follow how they will bring electronic invoicing to the massess!

  • Mike

    typo in the website info at the end of the article – company URL (name & link) to TradeShift are missing the final ‘t’.

  • Lindsay

    Sounds great! It’s about time someone came up with a concept like this!

  • John Ombarge

    Very interesting article, good concept indeed.

  • Patrik Johansson

    It’s about time we stop sending paper invoices, stop printing and typing invoice information manually, and about time we stop with the ridiculous proprietary EDI standards.

  • Ignacio Lebensohn

    I cannot think of a situation in which disruptive would have a more positive connotation than this. It is rather amazing that this great inadequacy has not been solved as of yet, and very refreshing to see someone finally doing something about it

  • Jens Jakob Andersen

    This is really exciting – this is how it must have been to see new continents grow from the oceans and create the basis for new life, after zillions of years of darknes.

    For the first time in 15 years I am really excited about IT again.

  • coldbrew

    This is a good strategy. Please save us from EDI here in the US. Antiquated, proprietary, and expensive…yuck.

    UBL is better explained at Wikipedia:

  • Michael Bross

    Seeing has here in the US many companies have forced workers into paperless pay systems I can’t wait to see if this takes off. I’d love to see the face of the first CFO to be told his company won’t get 2 billion in busness unless he converts to a paperless model for the transactions.

  • Josh Scott

    Congrats to the TradeShift team and a big congrats to Morten Lund…

    Morten’s passion for disruption and the stand-up way he has quickly jumped back in to the game after a difficult fall, should be an inspiration to entrepreneurs around the world.

    Don’t sleep on Denmark.

  • ian sweeney

    This is a HUGE opportunity. 80+ % of all business trade is via paper invoice. 75% of that trade involves a small business that cant deploy EDI. Its nice to see our euro peers take a swing at this too.

    Ian Sweeney

  • Kris

    Looking forward to connect our customers / invoices to TradeShift. Today its possible to exchange documets between Erply customers.

  • » Danskere bag banebrydende global e-fakturering. Morten Lund med. - Bizzen - IT & Business

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  • Stefano Bernardi

    A W E S O M E

  • Frictionless Business – a PR opportunity « Publi-chat-sity

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  • Anoowa, developers of billFLO » Blog Archive » billFLO welcomes Tradeshift

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  • Austin Gunter

    Does this mean that they can pair up with Piryx to take down the other half of the hegemony, Paypal?

  • E_boy

    I’m confused on what it is they do… instead of using visa/mastercard/Amex infrastructure, all the exchanges will be done int the cloud? Does this mean it will be easier for other credit card companies to come into existence?

    • Christian Lanng (CEO Tradeshift)

      We are focusing on all types of transactions, payment is just 10% of the order to invoice process, the other 90% are still paper-based they are our prime target.

  • Equita

    This is just the start, there are so many financial processes that are still using technology from the 60s and 70s. Congrats to Tradeshift for doing something that the banks are too lazy to do.

  • Cullen

    I’m curious what makes this different from say, FreshBooks? Couldn’t FreshBooks make a cool video that says FreshBooks is for everyone and be doing almost exactly the same thing? When I get an invoice it appears in my FreshBooks invoice… I can then get paid out or pay for it online as well. I don’t have to print or mail anything.

    What am I missing?

    • Cullen

      Correction: That second “invoice” should be read as “inbox”.

    • Peter Weert

      I think the difference between Freshbooks and Tradeshift is, Freshbooks are tied to one financial package, Tradeshift is open, and anybody can develop towards their API’s, but this is still not totally clear from their webpage.

      Looking forward to follow this though, as it looks quite interesting!

  • Steve Allen

    Very interesting Christian!

    But wouldn’t you still need to run on payment rails to actually make payments? How can you do this without eating the transcation cost? Also, if it’s totally free, what’s TradeShift’s business model? Where do you make money?

    • Christian Lanng (CEO Tradeshift)


      You are absolutely right and it’s not entirely clear from the article, we use a host of different payment methods (including as mentioned in Wired).

      Our business model is explained in more detail here: but we have a free basic version for everyone, and then a host of value added services for Enterprise customers such as analytics, workflow etc. which we charge for.


  • Anon

    Check the cred of those angel investors. Porn dialer and narcotics money. Different kind of disruption.

  • Eileen Burbidge

    Congrats to TradeShift and of course to Morten too, but unless I missed a subtle nuance, I believe Finland-based Maventa has also been doing/trying this for 2 years, see

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