IBM, Maersk Partner to Create Blockchain Platform for Shipping Industry

IBM is working with container shipping giant Maersk to create a blockchain-based platform that will help speed up processing and cut costs.

IBM has joined forces with A.P. Moller-Maersk, the global leader in container shipping, to build a blockchain-based platform that can boost trade processing and save billions. As of today, the shipping market remains dominated by bureaucracy and paperwork, so a shift to modern technologies to help streamline processing is imperative. 

IBM and Maersk are planning to launch their platform in mid-2018. Until then, the companies have to promote the product so that shippers, ocean carriers, freight forwarders, ports, and other institutions would join. 

The blockchain platform will help manage and monitor tens of millions of shipping containers worldwide. The supply chain operations will be digitized from scratch. 

Maersk chief commercial officer Vincent Clerc said:

“The big thing that is missing from this industry to digitize and unleash the potential of the technology is really to create a form of utility that brings standards across the entire ecosystem.”

The company says the shipment of refrigerated products from East Africa to the EU may involve around 30 intermediaries. The paperwork and bureaucracy can account for up to 20% of total shipment costs. 

“There is a strong push from the end-customer to see this change. We may meet initial resistance from one part of the ecosystem. The success of the platform depends on acceptance of all participants,” Clerc added. 

He also noted that clients and ports in the US, the Netherlands, Singapore, and China’s Guangdong province have already expressed their interest in joining the platform. 

IBM has been very active in promoting the blockchain technology. It is developing blockchain solutions and offers them in different industries, finance and supply chain being two examples. In mid-December, IBM partnered with Wal-Mart and JD.com to launch the Chinese Blockchain Alliance, which set out to build a supply chain system to improve food safety. 

In October, IBM announced a partnership with Stellar, the entity behind the Lumen cryptocurrency, for a banking project in the South Pacific region. 

The collaboration agreement with Maersk was announced in March 2017. The Danish-based group manages over 13% of all the containers shipped worldwide.