Cargo shipping group Maersk and IBM today announced the launch of TradeLens, a technology that applies blockchain to the global shipping supply chain. Both companies in January 2018, stated their commitment to developing a blockchain solution for international cargo transportation.
TradeLens aims at boosting efficiency and limiting the enormous paper trail of global container shipping while taking advantage of the blockchain, the decentralized public ledger. More than 94 firms and organizations have already signed up for the project to support transparency, information sharing, and innovation in the shipping industry.
TradeLens was developed using the IBM Blockchain platform, which uses the open source relative of Linux, Hyperledger Fabric, and it is interchangeable with other IBM and Hyperledger projects.
Todd Scott, the vice president of global trade at IBM Blockchain explained:
“We have architected all of these solutions so that it’s very easy for data to be exchanged between the two different blockchain – take TradeLens and IBM Food Trust for example – if clients were to be inclined.”
Since its launch, TradeLens has already secured more than 20 port and terminal operators globally who are piloting the project, as well as participating organizations ranging from dozens of port operators and customs authorities to logistics companies, ocean carriers, freight forwarders, and beneficial cargo owners.
Applying blockchain smart contracts in the shipping trade process allows multiple partners to collaborate in one single shared view of a transaction, which remains private, confidential, and unchangeable, in view of the immutability nature of blockchain technology. TradeLens also uses artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and analytics technologies to help companies move and track goods digitally across borders.
IBM and Maersk have updated their marketing strategy, now describing the project as “joint collaboration” rather than a joint venture. Michael White, head of global trade digitization at Maersk emphasized it is completely open to ecosystem participants. Maersk and IBM remain the only two shareholders.