Monday 19th Nov, 2018

Maersk and IBM to launch blockchain system for global trade

Photo: Southern Cross Maritime
Photo: Southern Cross Maritime

MAERSK announced it was teaming up with IT colossus IBM to develop a system to conduct global trade using blockchain technology.

The two companies are forming a joint venture that aims to offer a “global trade digitisation platform” that could be used by the entire global shipping ecosystem.

The new company plans to develop a “shipping information pipeline”, which will enable all actors involved in managing a supply chain to see and exchange information about shipment events in real time.

Also, Blockchain-based smart contracts would enable end-users to securely submit, validate and approve documents across organisational boundaries, helping to reduce cost for clearance and cargo movement.

Maersk and IBM are establishing an advisory board of industry experts to help further shape the platform and services, provide guidance and feedback on important industry factors.

The two companies have named Michael J. White, former president of Maersk Line in North America, as CEO of the new company.

“Today, a vast amount of resources are wasted due to inefficient and error-prone manual processes,” Mr White said.

“The pilots confirmed our expectations that, across the industry, there is considerable demand for efficiency gains and opportunities coming from streamlining and standardizing information flows using digital solutions. Our ambition is to apply these learnings to establish a fully open platform whereby all players in the global supply chain can participate and extract significant value.”

Maersk chief commercial officer Vincent Clerc said the new company marked a milestone in the company’s efforts to drive the digitisation of global trade.

“The potential from offering a neutral, open digital platform for safe and easy ways of exchanging information is huge, and all players across the supply chain stand to benefit,” said Mr Clerc, who will also be the chairman of the board of the new joint venture.

“By joining our knowledge of trade with IBM’s capabilities in blockchain and enterprise technology, we are confident this new company can make a real difference in shaping the future of global trade.”

IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain senior vice-president Bridget van Kralingen said blockchain can foster new business models and play an important role in how the world works by building smarter businesses.

“Our joint venture with Maersk means we can now speed adoption of this exciting technology with the millions of organizations who play vital roles in one of the most complex and important networks in the world, the global supply chain,” she said.

IBM and Maersk began their collaboration to build new blockchain technologies in 2016. Since then, several organisations have piloted the platform, including DuPont, Dow Chemical, Tetra Pak, Port Houston, Rotterdam Port Community System Portbase, the Customs Administration of the Netherlands and US Customs and Border Protection.

The new joint venture will enable Maersk and IBM to commercialise the platform and make it available to more companies and organisations.

Pending regulatory clearance, the joint venture expects to make the platform available within six months.

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