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The evolution of the maritime blockchain

The market for blockchain-based solutions, particularly in terms of container shipping and the global supply chain, has become highly competitive.

This PTI Insight will explore the range of options available to companies operating in the maritime sector, and how industry leaders are betting their demand in finding an optimal platform for transferring documentation, data and ultimately reconfiguring the negotiation practices themselves .

An overview

While Maersk and IBM's TradeLens platform has garnered the most titles in the last few months, promising to offer a more efficient and secure global business, large companies are not the only players who are dictating the progress of technology development.

Start-up organizations, such as CargoX, provide neutral solutions for companies of all sizes, allowing shippers, shippers and logistics companies to benefit from the most reliable and reliable commercial networks facilitated by the blockchain.

The main ports and terminals, which play a key role in the global supply chain, are also joining the wave of new companies that integrate the blockchain into their commercial operations.

This includes the port of Veracruz in Mexico, which is inaugurating a blockchain project to improve the safety and security of freight transport. It is not the only shopping center to take this step.

The main players

It is not surprising that the most important members of the maritime community want to shape the future of the sector.

The aforementioned Maersk and IBM clearly have the intention to pave the way for the blockchain. Maersk not only secured the collaboration of 94 & # 39; early adopters', but 234 marine gateways worldwide have also agreed to use the platform, which will offer real-time access to shipping data and shipping documents, including IoT and sensor data.

Although this solution has received tremendous support, other major operators, terminal operators and supply chain specialists have demonstrated that they are ready to challenge the status quo.

In November 2018, a nine-party consortium for blockchain development emerged from Shanghai, including COSCO, CMA CGM, DP World and PSA International.

While this assembly of companies has not yet formulated a product to contend with the TradeLens service, such a powerful union of authoritative maritime leaders could be the first serious challenge to Maersk and to the potential blockchain domain of IBM.

A Challenging Start-Up

Despite the scale of Maersk and the IBM TradeLens initiative, and the possible implications of a multiparty blockchain consortium, there are companies independent of those major players trying to secure their position in the blockchain market.

One of these companies is CargoX, a company based in Slovenia that specializes in the "smart bill of lading". In November 2018, it officially launched the Smart B / L platform, which is described as "the first open and neutral blockchain platform in the field of shipping for commercial use in the real world".

CargoX has emphasized the difference between its platform and TradeLens, which "relies on a" private blockchain infrastructure "that is" much more prone to manipulation ".

Darko Djuric, CargoX, discusses how the blockchain could be used to protect the cybernetic environment in a recent Port Technology technical document

As for a nine-party blockchain consortium, CargoX suggested that "decision-making processes" could "work much slower than expected".

So what are the advantages of an alternative platform like Smart B / L? According to CargoX, which highlights how "the real-time market is becoming increasingly dynamic", its blockchain service is "simple to use" and can be adapted to "virtually any workflow or process".

The company, a leading member of the blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), also offered a vision of the future: "In five or ten years, most of the maritime documentation will be provided through blockchain technology, just as people have stopped to send paper letters for sending e-mails for important and business-critical messages ".

To understand how important the blockchain for ports and shipping, read more: PTI Insight – Blockchain: The Missing Links

Doors and Blockchain

While the future of logistics and commerce is bending towards digital, including the growing importance of blockchain platforms, ports and terminals aim to adapt to this new landscape.

For many of these vital supply chain nodes, Maersk and IBM TradeLens have demonstrated the most interesting proposition, with Valenciaport, the Port of Montreal and several APM Terminals stations recently connected to the solution.

According to Valenciaport, "the developers of TradeLens have indicated that the information contained in this system grows at the rate of one million daily data shipments", underlining the vast capacity of service distribution.

Matt Kuperholz discusses the development of a national commercial community system in a recent Port Technology technical document

On the other hand, some ports are striving to develop viable blockchain solutions.

Working alongside Samsung SDS and ABN AMRO, the port of Rotterdam is trying to exploit blockchain technology to increase transparency and efficiency.

A pilot project, which will start in January 2019, involves multimodal transport of a container from a factory in Asia to the Netherlands, testing the cooperative network of three companies and forming the basis for "an open, independent and global platform operating from the point view of the shippers ".

Underlining the importance of collaboration, Sanghun Lee of Samsung SDS revealed that "for the first time in the rather short history of this technology, we can have several blockchains working together".

Future developments

As suggested by Nadia Hewett of the World Economic Forum at the recent conference on Smart Ports and Supply Chain Technologies (SPSCT) 2018, "the blockchain within the supply chain is a solution still managed by IT teams". So, why does the rest of the industry need to become more aware of this technology?

Oliver Haines, Vice President of BiTA Europe, revealed that "widespread adoption will not be driven by one or two platforms alone, regardless of how big the companies involved are, especially with such fragmented industry" .

Instead, as Haines says, industry must work together to "promote standards and best practices that, in turn, maximize benefits".

Dean Croke, Bita, discussed what blockchain could mean for logistics in a recent Port Technology technical document

BiTA, the world's largest blockchain commercial alliance, has also expressed its satisfaction that "the major international shipping companies" decide to exploit blockchain technology as an essential part of their logistics operations, although the speed of progress remains uncertain.

If a uniform solution develops sooner or later, Haines predicts that "the market will undergo significant changes", generating "more transparency, trust and efficiency than ever before".

Read more:

Automation and optimization, digitization, carriers, CMA CGM, Maersk, finance, global economy / commerce, port planning, ports, security and logistics, shipments

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