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IBM, Maersk announce blockchain shipping solution TradeLens with over 90 participating organizations

IBM and Maersk today introduced a new blockchain-based shipping solution, TradeLens, as part of their ongoing partnership.

Korea Joongang Daily had previously reported that IBM and Maersk were planning to release two blockchain applications this year for the shipping industry.

The companies began their collaboration back in 2016 and announced a joint venture earlier this year to tap blockchain potential for digitizing global trade. In the latest announcement, they said that they will deliver their solution through an extension of their pre-existing collaboration agreement instead of a joint venture.

"Our joint collaboration model allows us to better address key feedback from ecosystem participants while ensuring TradeLens interoperability and data protection among Maersk, IBM and all ecosystem participants," said Mike White, TradeLens leader for Maersk. "We strongly believe this will maximize industry adoption."

TradeLens has been designed to enhance the efficiency and security of global trade, support information sharing and transparency between various stakeholders, and encourage industry-wide innovation. It uses IBM Blockchain and smart contracts to enable digital collaboration across the multiple parties involved in international trade by establishing a single shared view of a transaction without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality.

During the platform’s 12-month trial, it demonstrated that it can reduce the transit time of a shipment of packaging materials to a production line in the U.S. by 40 percent, saving thousands of dollars. Some supply chain participants have also estimated that TradeLens can help reduce the steps taken to answer basic operational questions such as "where is my container" from 10 steps and five people to one step and one person.

The trade document module, ClearWay, has been released in beta and allows importers/exporters, customs brokers, trusted third parties such as Customs, other government agencies, and NGOs to collaborate in cross-organizational business processes and information exchanges, all backed by a secure, non-repudiable audit trail.

The solution is available through the Early Adopter Program and is expected to launch commercially by the end of this year.

As part of the early adopter program, 94 organizations are actively involved or have agreed to participate on the TradeLens platform built on open standards, the release said. This includes port and terminal operators, container carriers, customs authorities (from the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia, and Peru), customs brokers, cargo owners, and freight forwarders, transportation and logistics companies.

According to the official release, over 154 million shipping events have been already captured on the platform and the data is growing at a rate of close to one million events per day. The companies said that standards discussions are actively underway with openshipping.org and they are currently working to align the TradeLens APIs with UN/CEFACT standards.

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