IBM-Maersk move ahead with a decentralised platform global launch

Maersk, one of the world’s largest supply chain and transport companies has been working on a blockchain platform project with IBM. As a part of moving all of their work onto the blockchain, 92 global companies have signed up to be a part of the new venture. Dubbed “TradeLens” the aim is to orchestrate more efficient global trade whilst relying less on middlemen and traditional, slower processes.

154 million shipping events

So far, the collaborative project has resulted in 154 million shipping events in ports across the world and is not growing at a staggering one million per day. TradeLens now includes Hamburg Sud based in German and American firm International Lines. Other involved entities include cargo owners, freight forwarders, and customs authorities.

On a global scale, shipping accounts for around 20% of the global supply chain market with 20 terminal and port operators in over 235 marine gateways worldwide.

After an extensive beta test of the service, the platform is now accepting applications from early adopters and has announced a new smart contract service that will be able to execute complex shipping orders without the need for middlemen.

“We have seen a lot of sceptics talk about the validity of blockchain solutions,” said IBM general manager and head of blockchain, Marie Wieck. “And I think with over 90 organizations and over 150 million events captured on the system we really are seeing proof in the pudding in terms of where people are spending their time to get benefits from blockchain.”

Cutting up to five intermediaries

Each user of TradeLens has access to their own blockchain node and allows them to cut out as many as five intermediaries, even in the case of more simple enquiries such as finding out where a container is at a particular moment.

Transparency Market Research has estimated that blockchain based global supply chain software will be worth an impressive $32.9 billion by the end of 2026. Furthermore, the introduction of such software can really help to level the playing field when it comes to increasing trade for developing nations. Wieck says that users are able to enjoy savings of up to 40% on shipping by shortening the time between each step and saving thousands on every transaction. I addition to this, users will be able to collaborate easily by having an up-to-date view of which products need shipping and where the nearest empty containers are located.

“TradeLens is leveraging the benefits of blockchain as a technology for distributed information sharing,” said Wieck. “Whatever might be needed by customs and regulators to ensure efficient and safe trade, all of that information is available in real time to the participants.”

Customs authorities in Saudi Arabia, Australia, Singapore, and Peru have all signed up to use TradeLens in some way, and the Customs Administration of The Netherlands that handles 15 million containers per year, has also given them the vote of confidence.

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