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Maersk and IBM are taking their blockchain collaboration a step further, announcing today that they intend to form a joint-venture company based in New York to “commercialise” the technology.
The company, yet to be named and still requiring regulatory clearance, will focused on Maersk’s quest to digitalise container shipping.
The first step will be to create an “information pipeline” to provide end-to-end supply chain visibility, giving all participants the ability to “securely and seamlessly exchange information about shipment events in real time”.
It will also promote the potential for blockchain to move the industry towards true paperless trade by digitising and automating paperwork filings by “enabling end-users to securely submit, validate and approve documents across organisational boundaries, ultimately helping to reduce the time and cost for clearance and cargo movement”.
Vincent Clerc, Maersk COO and chairman of the JV, said: “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.
“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.”
Both IBM and Maersk appear to have been working behind the scenes to persuade customers of the benefits of the new venture and said shippers General Motors and Procter & Gamble had already signed up to use it, as well as Agility Logistics.
Maersk and IBM began their joint blockchain project in mid-2016 and have since linked up with a range of supply chain collaborators, including DuPont, Dow Chemical, Tetra Pak, Port Houston, Rotterdam Port Community System Portbase, Customs Administration of the Netherlands and US Customs and Border Protection to trial the platform.
Singapore Customs and Peruvian Customs will explore how it can help facilitate trade flows and enhance supply chain security, while terminal operators APM Terminals and PSA will use it to “enrich port collaboration and improve terminal planning”.
In addition, Guangdong Inspection and Quarantine Bureau will connect to its Global Quality Traceability System for import and export goods.
Former president of Maersk Line in North America Michael J White has been named chief executive of the new company. he said: “Today, a vast amount of resources are wasted due to inefficient and error-prone manual processes. The pilots confirmed our expectations that, across the industry, there is considerable demand for efficiency gains and opportunities coming from streamlining and standardizing information flows using digital solutions.”
Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain, added: “The major advances IBM has made in blockchain have shown that the technology can foster new business models and play an important role in how the world works by building smarter businesses.
“Our joint-venture with Maersk means we can now speed adoption of this exciting technology with the millions of organisations which play vital roles in one of the most complex and important networks in the world, the global supply chain.”