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THE DIGITAL Container Shipping Association has launched phase two of its electronic bill of lading platform interoperability proof of concept (PoC).

eBL are a focal point of DCSA’s work to further digitalisation and standardisation in container shipping.

The PoC will be conducted in conjunction with digital trade companies CargoX, edoxOnline, essDOCS and WAVE BL.

The companies intend to implement DCSA eBL interoperability standards to test eBL interoperability through the full bill of lading lifecycle using data that mirrors a live shipment.

DCSA said it has previously released standards for eBL data formats and interfaces. The eBL interoperability PoC leverages DCSA eBL Interoperability Standards 1.0 – Beta 1.

It said upon completion of the PoC, DCSA eBL Interoperability Standards 1.0 will be officially released and free to download for any platform provider to incorporate into their eBL solutions.

Phase one of the PoC was funded and supported by all of DCSA’s carrier members, which include MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Evergreen, Yang Ming, HMM and ZIM. The first phase was completed in May this year.

The standards and PoC design were adjusted for phase two based on participant feedback in the first phase.

DCSA expects phase two to be completed before the end of this year. It said successful completion would ensure full technological operability between participating eBL platforms.

The association said it is also working to address the legal framework needed between solution providers to enable cross-platform eBL transfer.

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According to DCSA, fully interoperable eBL will enable shippers and beneficial cargo owners to choose an eBL provider based on service levels and capabilities.

At the same time, they will have the ability to exchange electronic documentation with carriers, banks and other parties that may use different platforms.

DCSA CEO Thomas Bagge said fully interoperable eBL is a starting point for digital trade in the global supply chain.

“It will make today’s practices more efficient, reliable and sustainable, but ultimately it will provide a foundation for further digitalisation,” Mr Bagge said.

“Actors in global supply chains want to be able to choose the best platform for their needs. For service providers, it will remove barriers to adoption and create an operational foundation that fosters innovation and collaboration.”

Mr Bagge said, according to the association’s 2021 year-end research, less than 1.2% of eBL was electronic.

“We urge all industry stakeholders to get involved and be part of the movement to work towards 100% eBL adoption,” he said.

CargoX CEO Stefan Kukman said collaborating with DCSA and industry stakeholders to standardise paperless bills of lading is an important part of the company’s work.

“eBL will bring countless benefits to the industry including greater sustainability and efficiency,” Mr Kukman said.

“With our platform for blockchain document transfer, eBL are smarter and more secure than paper-based alternatives.”

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