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Maersk, IBM announce joint venture to digitize global trade using blockchain
Shipping giant Maersk is joining forces with IBM to establish a joint venture to provide more efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade using blockchain technology.
The new company aims to offer a jointly developed global trade digitization platform built on open standards and designed for the global shipping ecosystem. It will address the need to provide more transparency and simplicity in the movement of goods across borders and trading zones.
"This new company marks a milestone in our strategic efforts to drive the digitization of global trade. The potential from offering a neutral, open digital platform for safe and easy ways of exchanging information is huge, and all players across the supply chain stand to benefit," said Vincent Clerc, chief commercial officer at Maersk and future chairman of the board of the new joint venture. "By joining our knowledge of trade with IBM's capabilities in blockchain and enterprise technology, we are confident this new company can make a real difference in shaping the future of global trade."
In addition to blockchain technology, IBM and Maersk will employ other cloud-based open source technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and analytics, delivered via IBM Services, to power the new platform. The objective is to help companies move and track goods digitally across international borders.
IBM and Maersk began a collaboration in June 2016 to build new blockchain- and cloud-based technologies. With this new venture, they would be able to commercialize and scale their solutions to a broader group of global corporations, many of whom have already expressed interest and are exploring ways to use the new platform, including General Motors, Procter and Gamble, and Agility Logistics.
According to the official release, customs and government authorities, including Singapore Customs and Peruvian Customs, will explore collaborating with the platform to facilitate trade flows and enhance supply chain security. The global terminal operators APM Terminals and PSA International will use the platform to enrich port collaboration and improve terminal planning. With support from Guangdong Inspection and Quarantine Bureau by connecting to its Global Quality Traceability System for import and export goods, the platform can also link users to important trade corridors in and out of China.
The new company’s initial focus would be to commercialize two core capabilities aimed at digitizing the global supply chain from end-to-end. This includes a shipping information pipeline to provide end-to-end supply chain visibility to enable all supply chain participants and paperless trade to digitize and automate paperwork filings.
Michael J. White, former president of Maersk Line in North America, has been named as the CEO of the new company, which will be headquartered in the New York metropolitan area. Upon regulatory clearance, solutions from the joint venture are expected to become available within six months.