The giant of IBM and the Maersk expedition recruited a robust crew for its global trade blockchain platform.
On Wednesday, companies have already signed more than 90 companies for the platform since it was spun off from Maersk in January. At the end they also gave a name: TradeLens.
Taking advantage of the scale similar to Maersk's leviathan, TradeLens has attracted a wide range of entities, ranging from dozens of port operators and customs authorities to logistics companies and even ocean rivals. carriers in progress, such as Pacific International Lines, which have tested the platform.
Now that the pilot phase is complete, TradeLens is available for participation through an early adoption program and should be fully available on the market by the end of this year.
And to bring home the message that TradeLens is an open and neutral platform, IBM and Maersk have updated their marketing strategy, now describing the project as "joint collaboration" rather than a joint venture.
"A At the time of the launch, we wanted to be clear that we were not offering a tailor-made solution from Maersk or IBM," Michael White, responsible for digitizing global trade at Maersk, told CoinDesk
While Maersk and IBM remain the only two shareholders, and both have invested in technology and jointly own the IP, White has emphasized that it is completely open to participants in the ecosystem.
"It was never a joint venture," he said, although Maersk's press release for the launch described it as such.
But a spokesman for IBM said the original 49 / The 51% ownership split will no longer be applied with the model of collaboration that the two are now marketing, in response to the industry feedback.
Both IBM and Maersk will sell access to the TradeLens platform. The seller will contract with the customer and receive all commissions and receipts rather than share it with the other partner, the IBM representative added.
This new model allows them to bring the solution to market faster and be more flexible than
TradeLens is built on the IBM Blockchain platform, which uses Linux's open-source relative, Hyperledger Fabric, and this presents a possible interaction with other IBM and Hyperledger Projects.
"We have designed all these solutions so that it is very easy to exchange data between the two different blockchains – for example, TradeLens and IBM Food Trust – if customers are inclined," said Todd Scott , vice president of global trade at IBM Blockchain.
To help promote this open supply chain ecosystem, TradeLens is pushing its open API for shi pping as well as the work being done with shipping standard bodies such as CEFACT and industrial groups like OpenShipping. org.
"In addition to the base of blockchain technology we are working with standards, and we also have About 125 APIs, and we will give all this access to the developer community so that they can even create new ones in addition", Scott said.
However, we will not all see this as such a large and gregarious invitation to industry.
"For them [IBM and Maersk] it is fair to say" we are open to all ", but all they are saying is" come and use our system "," said Sean Edwards, president of 39; International trade association and lump sum association.
Edwards, who is also chief legal officer at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe, said that getting everyone to talk is not a new problem and the answer, he said, was to try and create ecosystems like Universal Trade Network (UTN), only they have not taken off yet.
Referring to other blockchain solutions specifically aimed at banks to optimize trade finance (which is related but different than supply chain processes TradeLens is digitizing), Edwards said the situation could become one where, just as consumers have a multiplicity of passwords and systems we use, banks and other entities may need to be present on a number of different platforms.
"Either there are enough common standards that all the different underlying technologies can actually talk to each other, or you have such big initiatives that everyone uses it," Edwards said, adding:
" I think someone like Maersk will solve all this. "
Courting HSBC  In particular, TradeLens is not the only boat in this race.
In addition to the well-established payment platform of the TradeShift distribution chain, which connects over 1.5 million companies in 190 countries, the banking giant Citigroup is muted with a combined trade and supply chain platform that will not only leverage on DLP (distributed ledger technology), but also on the Internet of Things (IoT) and on artificial intelligence.
So TradeLens finds it difficult to find as neutral and therefore appeal to the widest possible audience.
Speaking to potential data privacy concerns for companies competing with Maersk subsidiaries, White said the Maersk side of the collaboration team is a separate and separate entity without any involvement with the commercial activities of Maersk Line (the shipping container business) or Damco (the logistic service provider).
On top of these Chinese walls, the platform itself has privacy protections, White said. "The sensitive information of other vectors is stored on separate nodes, so Vector A can not see the B vector information or the C vector information," he said.
Looking to the future, another possible interoperability blockchain operation for TradeLens would be some of the blockchain commercial finance platforms based on IBM Blockchain and Hyperledger, such as we.trade and Batavia.
Although it is probably still quite far in the future, you could imagine an all-encompassing platform, so that if radiofrequency identification locators (RFIDs) indicate physical proximity to something, a payment can be issued or a signed document or similar.
On the subject of commercial finance, IBM said that the banks were present among the 92 pilot partners of TradeLens, but these were not named. However, CoinDesk learned from a source in the trade finance arena that HSBC "met TradeLens a few times and agreed to re-establish the post-launch link."
And both IBM and Maersk have agreed on a world of opportunities waiting to bring TradeLens to financial banks, marine insurers and the like as the platform takes over.
The White of Maersk has concluded,
"We have discovered that there are a number of industries and institutions including financial institutions and insurance companies, who are trying to take advantage of this platform . "
Image of the shipping container through Shutterstock