IBM, Maersk Create Blockchain Shipping System

TradeLens uses distributed ledger technology-based smart contracts as an alternative to traditional deal-making process in world trading.

US technology giant IBM and one of the largest cargo logistic companies Maersk have launched blockchain-based shipping system in a bid to attract more clients in the lucrative trade logistic market. Dubbed TradeLens, the system is operational from Thursday after a 12-months testing period, IBM said in a press release.

“We believe blockchain can play an important role in digitizing global shipping, an area of the global economy that moves four trillion dollars of goods every year,” Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president at IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain, said in a statement.

The blockchain is the cryptographic method used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). Developed as a distributed ledger technology (DLT), it can lower transaction fees and reduce the time for deal-making by automatically generating the so-called smart-contracts. Blockchain also allows tracking of all activities and thus bringing transparency and more confidence in an area like trading and financial services where this is a highly-valued component.

TradeLens is based on the IBM private blockchain, so only partners with access can see all documents and activities during the shipping process and thus significantly foster transactions and improve confidence. The US tech company claimed that during the trial period TradeLens reduced the step to answer the question ‘where is my container’ from 10 stages and five people involved in one step and one person.

“Shippers, shipping lines, freight forwarders, port and terminal operators, inland transportation and customs authorities can interact more efficiently through real-time access to shipping data and shipping documents, including IoT and sensor data ranging from temperature control to container weight,” IBM explained in the statement.

Currently, around 20 ports around the world have deals using TradeLens, including Port of Halifax, Port of Rotterdam, Modern Terminals of Hong Kong, and Port of Bilbao. The project has five custom authority partners, located in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia and Peru, and several logistics companies like Agility, CEVA Logistics, DAMCO, Kotahi, PLH Trucking Company, Ancotrans, and WorldWide Alliance.

IBM is one of the global companies that increasingly invest in cryptocurrency technology as a part of the company’s efforts in finding new ways of revenues.