The Shippers Touch Blockchain to unlock bottlenecks


Momentum is growing to adopt blockchain, the technology behind such cryptocurrencies as bitcoins, to fatten the wheels of international trade as companies and governments begin testing prototype platforms.
IBM and AP Moller-Maersk, the world's largest shipping container company, have collaborated on a blockchain trading platform that they hope to bring to market within the year. The customs and customs protection of the United States and the customs administration of the Netherlands are among the first to adopt them. Simplifying documents could increase world trade volumes by around 15%, a project manager reported
Global trade now involves the exchange of dozens of documents in a variety of formats via e-mail and mail. Using blockchain to share this data in a standardized and unified format could save a lot of time and effort.
With air transport and short sea shipping, goods may be held at customs if they arrive before the documents have been exchanged. Blockchain promises to reduce the risk of such delays and increase security. The ability of all parties to verify transactions can reduce incorrect orders.
A consortium that included global management consulting Accenture, the Singapore ocean shipping company and a European customs organization tested a blockchain solution to digitize transport documents. The system has drastically reduced the data entry requirements in the issue of documents such as bills of lading, which include information such as vessel names and load quantities, up to 80%.
Efforts are also under way to link blockchain systems with existing ones. NTT Data and MUFG Bank have successfully linked their blockchain-based system for the exchange of invoices and other documents managed by financial institutions in the commercial platform of the Singapore government.
The obstacles to the widespread adoption of blockchain in commerce remain high. Documents such as bills of lading should be presented as paper copies. The individual countries involved in the trade should approve the digitized information as valid, which is no small task. The World Customs Organization is considering a series of universal rules.
The Japanese government remains cautiously on the sidelines. "Japan operates thinking that a closed network guarantees security", explains a government source.
With the blockchain, data is present on many computers in a network. "My guess is that resistance in Japan is due to the fact that it is not clear who bears responsibility when commercial problems arise," said a source.
The vision in the private sector is that the blockchain will enter a wider use in global trade in the coming years. If Japan is slow to get on board, it may lag behind other countries in facilitating the flow of trade.

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