IBM, Maersk in Blockchain Tie-up for Shipping Industry

File photo: A.P. Moller - Maersk

Posted by Eric Haun

IBM and Danish transport company Maersk said they were working
together to digitize, manage, and track shipping transactions
using blockchain technology.

The technology, which powers the digital currency bitcoin,
enables data sharing across a network of individual computers. It
has gained worldwide popularity due to its usefulness in
recording and keeping track of assets or transactions across all
industries.

The blockchain solution being built by the two companies is
expected to be made available to the ocean shipping industry
later this year, according to a joint statement from
International Business Machines Corp and the container unit of
A.P. Moller-Maersk. It would help manage and track the paper
trail of tens of millions of shipping containers globally by
digitizing the supply chain process from end to end.

This will enhance transparency and make the sharing of
information among trading partners more secure.

When adopted at scale, the solution based on the Linux
Foundation's open source Hyperledger platform has the potential
to save the industry billions of dollars, the companies said.

"Working closely with Maersk for years, we've long understood the
challenges facing the supply chain and logistics industry and
quickly recognized the opportunity for blockchain to provide
massive savings when used broadly across the ocean shipping
industry ecosystem," said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice
president, industry platforms, at IBM.

IBM and Maersk intend to work with a network of shippers, freight
forwarders, ocean carriers, ports and customs authorities to
build the new global trade digitization product, the companies
said.

The product is also designed to help reduce or eliminate fraud
and errors and minimize the time products spend in the transit
and shipping process.

For instance, Maersk found that in 2014, just a simple shipment
of refrigerated goods from East Africa to Europe can go through
nearly 30 people and organizations, including more than 200
different communications among them.

The new blockchain solution would enable the real-time exchange
of original supply chain transactions and documents through a
digital infrastructure that connects the participants within the
network, according to IBM and Maersk.

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Andrew
Hay)

Mar 6, 2017

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