Is trade becoming an asset class? Some market participants are pushing in that direction.

This, of course, is easier said than done, but the cost of getting it wrong could be enormous. “Ultimately corporates pay the price,” said Kah Chye Tan, head of trade and working capital at Barclays. “We can’t sit back as clients pay 100 basis points one moment and 200 basis points the next for the same product. We can’t keep passing that on to clients.”

Creating a market for trade assets, could, or should, reduce the volatility that is now plaguing the market, said Tan. But one big challenge is the lack of consistency—from basic things such as naming conventions to more critical issues such as document and contract standardization. Although some industry associations, such as the International Chamber of Commerce—are working on this, it could be some time before those efforts bear significant fruit.