Blockchain Solutions for Global Freight

Just like blockchain is being seen to revolutionize various industries in the next few years, global freight or international shipping industry is not exempted from the great revolution. Being a continuation of our blockchain discussion on TheBlockchainAcademy[1], this post presents the potential blockchain solutions to be used and exploited by global freight industry in the coming years.

A number of businesses around the globe are making grounds to deploy blockchain to shape their shipping industry practices and exploit the potential it brings in terms of cost saving transparency and speed for the global fright transactions. Let’s take the very recent case of Marine Transport International[2], a leading freight forwarder based in the United States and the United Kingdom. The company has recently announced the deployment of the first public blockchain solution in the world, in the global freight industry. The official release of the company states that the business is using TrustMe public blockchain technology and the services are being taken from Black Swan Data Limited, a predictive analytics expert. It is expected that the public blockchain would enhance data efficiency, as well as providing long term savings for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) transmission dependent businesses[3].

The technology will be applied in MTI’s SolasVGM product offering in order to facilitate the open and safe dispersion of shipping container data and information. Under the recently introduced regulations, shipper is responsible to make sure that an accurate CGM is handed over to terminal/carrier for each container loaded before being permitted to be shipped on-board on the vessel. As per MTI, in the view of regulatory change, the company did not see any hindrance, but an opportunity for thinking something novel, making future-proof itself and eventually standing out from its rivals. The convergence of the TrustMe[4] block chain technology and SolasVGM reinforces it further. MTI is excited with this approach and eager to see what happened next.

SolasVGM develops a collaborative ecosystem among all landside parties, shipper, load point, driver, terminal, booking party and shipping line. This ecosystem enables all parties involved in landside supply chain adhering to SOLAS, VGM requirements. By using TrustMe blockchain solution, the VGM data can be stored on the global blockchain, which gives a permanent record visible to the shippers, port officials, and cargo owners, replacing the cumbersome spreadsheets, logs, private databases and data intermediaries, effectively. The blockchain data is then verified, immutable and internally accessible, making it an ideal technology for the solutions such as SolasVGM product.

In addition, blockchain solutions are also effective when it comes to transportation documentations. A number of documents have to be used for export transactions. The documentation should be complete and accurate before being forwarded to each concerned party. Blockchain helps avoid fraudulent activities in terms of documentation. Recently, the efforts are being made by global freight companies to implement the Electronic airway bill and Electronic bill of lading[5]. Here, the shipping experts might wish to take benefit of this great opportunity and think of inherent qualities of bitcoin and blockchain to reengineer or innovate.

In the bitcoin and blockchain based system, the documents, including those related to transportation and assets like merchandise, can be expressed cryptographically. Therefore, the blockchain qualities are most suitable for minimizing the global commercial fraud. In addition, the smart assets, smart contracts and other applications using blockchain solutions can also be made fool-proof. Blockchain solutions ensure that[6]:

·         Freight transactions can be audited

·         Chains of goods custody can be verified

·         No alteration is made in transportation records

·         Veracity of the records are not disputed by the fraudulent parties

Some startups have started bringing new, interesting and applicable apps to the marketplace. For instance, Proof of Existence is critical in the global shipping context. Startup Block Notary developed a Proof of Existence app, giving users the digital notary services.[7] is advertising the newly introduced SealX app, which enables users to seal their digital contract, by using the blockchain. Now the contract content cannot be altered or made false. Another case is of the FinTech startup Wave, which is offering an application to administer the documents ownership on the blockchain, thus avoiding disputes, unnecessary risks and forgeries.

This is a novel approach in gathering and saving information on the blockchain and the way shippers can reap the benefits and potential of the technology.