IBM-Maersk blockchain supply chain attracts 94 companies
IBM and Danish shipping giant Maersk have christened their joint global trade blockchain platform TradeLens and report that it has already signed up 94 members.
They report that TradeLens has attracted a wide variety of entities, including dozens of port operators and customs authorities, logistics companies and even rival ocean-going carriers, such as Pacific International Lines, all of whom have been testing the platform.
To emphasise that TradeLens is open and neutral, IBM and Maersk have also updated their marketing strategy, which now describes the project as “joint collaboration” rather than a joint venture. “At the time of the launch, we wanted to be clear that we were not offering a bespoke Maersk- or IBM-only solution,” said Michael White, Maersk’s head of global trade digitisation.
“We have found that there are a number of industries and institutions, including financial institutions and insurance companies, that are looking to take advantage of this platform.”
With the pilot stage completed, new participants can join TradeLens through an early adopter programme, with the platform expected to be fully commercially available by the end of this year.
TradeLens is built on the IBM Blockchain platform, which uses the open source relative of Linux, Hyperledger Fabric, which presents a possible interplay with other IBM and Hyperledger projects.
“We have architected all of these solutions so that it’s very easy for data to be exchanged between the two different blockchains – take TradeLens and IBM Food Trust for example – if clients were to be inclined,” said Todd Scott, vice president of global trade at IBM Blockchain.
To help foster this open supply chain ecosystem, TradeLens is promoting its open application programming interfaces (APIs) for shipping and also work being done with shipping standards bodies such as the UN’s Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (CEFACT) and industry groups such as OpenShipping.org.
“On top of the bedrock of blockchain technology we are working with standards, and also have 125 or so APIs, and we are going to give all that access to the developer community so they can even create additional technologies of their own on top of it,” said Scott.
“We have seen a lot of sceptics talk about the validity of blockchain solutions,” added IBM general manager and head of blockchain, Marie Wieck.
“And I think with over 90 organisations and over 150m events captured on the system we really are seeing proof in the pudding in terms of where people are spending their time to get benefits from blockchain.”