A paper warehouse receipt is a title document. The “title” aspect is similar to the title of an automobile. A party/entity must possess the title document in order to “own” whatever the document represents.
An electronic warehouse receipt is a computer record (stored on a computer disk) which contains all of the data which would be shown on a paper warehouse receipt. The electronic warehouse receipt (i.e., ewr) is legally equivalent in every respect to a paper warehouse receipt. The ewr represents legal title. The most notable difference between the two types of receipts is that the ewr has no paper. Electronic warehouse receipts for agricultural commodities are allowed under federal law and are administrated under rules set by the USDA.
The ewr computer record is stored only on a computer system operated by a Provider. A Provider is a private-sector organization which is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to operate the electronic receipt computer system for a specific commodities. The Provider submits to strict regulation by USDA which requires both a financial and an EDP audit of the Provider annually. A Provider must have in place a variety of security measures and back-up mechanisms to ensure data safety along with continuity of operations. Also, the Provider is not allowed to alter any of the required data in a receipt record. EWR, Inc. is a Provider for a wide variety of grains (including corn, wheat, and sorghum).
Associated with every ewr computer record in the Provider’s computer is an essential piece of information which identifies the party to which the receipt belongs. This party is called the electronic receipt’s Holder. The Holder of an ewr would be equivalent to the person who physically possesses or bears a paper receipt. It is important to note that, with a paper receipt, the person who posesses it may or may not be the owner of the commodity represented by the receipt. For example, the person could be acting as an agent for the true owner of the commodity. In a similar manner, the Holder of an electronic receipt may or may not be the owner of the commodity represented. The Provider system makes no effort to track ownership. The Provider only keeps track of who is the current Holder.
Holders can be brokers, elevators, growers, banks, buyers, sellers, or USDA. Only storage facilities (i.e., warehouse, elevators) can issue electronic receipts on the Provider system. Typically the Provider requires each Holder to sign a contract before being allowed to use the Provider’s system. The contract outlines requires of both parties and the cost of the services of the Provider.Basic Functionality
The basic functions of the electronic grain warehouse receipt system will include: issue receipts; maintain (edit) receipts (warehouse only); transfer holdership; transfer to CCC for the loan; and cancel receipt.Advantages of Electronic Receipts
The advantages of electronic receipts over their paper counterparts include: reduction in manual paper handling; transporting paper documents is eliminated; information is moved faster; multiple keypunching of data is reduced; an audit trail of receipt activity is kept; and the electronic receipt system serves to back-up receipt data for the warehouse.System Security
The electronic receipt system uses identification codes and passwords to ensure that unauthorized access does not occur. A back-up computer site is maintained in the event that the main computer fails. Back-up tapes containing all critical data are made daily and stored off-site. EWR, Inc. utilizes fault-tolerant computers to minimize the chance of hardware failure. An audit log of all receipt activity is maintained as required by USDA.Internet
The electronic grain receipt system utilizes a web site on the Internet. Users will utilize the web site for receipt creation, transfers, and cancellation of receipts. Acknowledgments of actions will be sent to users by email.