AP Moller – Maersk and IBM announced their intention to establish a joint venture to provide more efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade using blockchain technology, according to a press statement on Monday.
The statement said that the aim of the new company will be to offer a jointly developed global trade digitisation platform built on open standards and designed for use by the entire global shipping ecosystem.
Further, the company will address the need to provide more transparency and simplicity in the movement of goods across borders and trading zones.
The statement added that the cost and size of the world’s trading ecosystems continues to grow in complexity, with more than $4tn in goods shipped each year, and more than 80% of the goods consumers use daily are carried by the ocean shipping industry.
“The maximum cost of the required trade documentation to process and administer many of these goods is estimated to reach one-fifth of the actual physical transportation costs. According to The World Economic Forum, by reducing barriers within the international supply chain, global trade could increase by nearly 15%, boosting economies and creating jobs,” the press release read.
The attributes of blockchain technology are ideally suited to large networks of disparate partners. A distributed ledger technology, blockchain establishes a shared, immutable record of all the transactions that take place within a network and then enables permissioned parties access to trusted data in real time. By applying the technology to digitise global trade processes, a new form of command and consent can be introduced into the flow of information, empowering multiple trading partners to collaborate and establishing a single shared view of a transaction without compromising details, privacy, or confidentiality.
Maersk and IBM supply chain visibility and interoperability solutions for the enterprise will use blockchain technology to power the new platform, as well as employ other cloud-based open source technologies including artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and analytics, delivered via IBM Services, in order to help companies move and track goods digitally across international borders.
Manufacturers, shipping lines, freight forwarders, port and terminal operators, and customs authorities can all benefit from these new technologies—as, ultimately, will consumers.