Blockchain technology took a large step in spreading throughout the logistics sector today when the major ocean carriers CMA CGM Group and Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) announced they had joined TradeLens, a blockchain-enabled digital shipping platform that was jointly developed by A.P. Moller - Maersk and IBM Corp.
The move could help give nascent blockchain technology the critical mass to provide improved transparency across the global shipping ecosystem, since the three mega-carriers together bring TradeLens' market share up to nearly half of the world's container shipping volume, according to IBM.
Just days earlier, Maersk had unveiled another digital shipping initiative, saying it had invested an unspecified amount in Traxens, a container tracking and real-time data startup based in Marseille, France. Maersk joins CMA CGM and MSC as minority shareholders in the firm. At the same time, Maersk commited to order up to 50,000 Traxens devices, a similar order to those placed earlier by CMA CGM and MSC.
Traxens said it would use the new support to drive greater interoperability for its platform based on open standards, with the goal of creating an open industry solution to help digitize the container shipping industry.
Tradelens shares many of the same ambitions, saying that blockchain can provide trust, transparency, and collaboration to help promote global trade. Blockchain is a software architecture that supports a "distributed ledger" of information, boosting visibility in business transactions since all trading partners can see the data but no single user can change it.
In joining the Tradelensdigital shipping platform, CMA CGM and MSC will now both promote TradeLens and also create complementary services on top of it for their customers and partners. "Digitization is a cornerstone of the CMA CGM Group's strategy to provide an end-to-end offer tailored to our customers' needs. We believe that TradeLens, with its commitment to open standards and open governance, is a key platform to help usher in this digital transformation," Rajesh Krishnamurthy, executive vice president, IT & Transformations, CMA CGM Group, said in a release. "TradeLens' network is already showing that participants from across the supply chain ecosystem can derive significant value."
BIG NEWS! @cmacgm & @MSCCargo, two of the world's largest global container carriers, announced they will join #TradeLens! Learn more: https://t.co/b3LuWrbmdh #blockchain #technology pic.twitter.com/oV0ypqetWC— IBM Blockchain (@IBMBlockchain) May 28, 2019
With more than 100 participants on the platform today, TradeLens processes over 10 million discrete shipping events and thousands of documents each week, providing shippers, carriers, freight forwarders, customs officials, port authorities, inland transportation providers, and others a common view of transactions, which can build trust, IBM said.
Beneficial cargo owners like Procter and Gamble could also benefit from the addition of more carriers onto the platform. "P&G ships a significant volume of ocean containers every year. Whether filled with our products or the materials used in production, understanding the status of our containers helps us manage an efficient supply chain," Michelle Eggers, director global logistics purchases, P&G, said in a release. "We are convinced that the industry will benefit from the transparency and accuracy of blockchain solutions and we are pleased to see MSC, CMA CGM, and Maersk all on the TradeLens platform. We have been testing TradeLens for the P&G business and see potential as the solution scales. We look forward to industry-wide adoption to benefit all network members."