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Ocean Alliance starts own blockchain group, firing shot across bow of Maersk-IBM alliance

(Photo: CMA CGM)

New group floats alternative blockchain solution for container trade.

A group of ocean carriers serving the trans-Pacific market plan to develop their own blockchain technology group with a goal toward more frictionless freight movements.

The new consortium, dubbed Global Shipping Business Network, will vie with the blockchain group established this year by Maersk (Nasdaq OMX: MAERB) and IBM (NYSE: IBM)

GSBN’s backers include CMA CGM, Cosco Shipping Lines (HK: 517), Evergreen Marine (TPEX: 2603), Orient Overseas Container Line (HK: 316), and Yang Ming (TPEX: 2609). Collectively the companies represent about one-third of global container ship capacity and jointly offer service as the Ocean Alliance.

The memorandum of understanding for GSBN also includes major marine terminal owners DP World (FRA: 3DW), Hutchison Ports (SGX: NS8U), PSA International, and Shanghai International Port (SSE: 600018), which account for a similar share of global container throughput.

Developing GSBN’s ledger technology is Hong Kong-based CargoSmart, a transportation management software company funded by OOCL.

CargoSmart will provide software that aims to connect “carriers, terminal operators, customs agencies, shippers, and logistics service providers to enable collaborative innovation and digital transformation in the supply chain,”

“With the vision of a truly open blockchain platform for the industry, the GSBN will be key to the success of establishing a sustainable blockchain ecosystem for all stakeholders in the supply chain,” said Andy Tung, co-chief executive officer of OOCL.

 Ocean Alliance and terminal operator executives join for GSBN signing ( Photo: CargoSmart )
Ocean Alliance and terminal operator executives join for GSBN signing ( Photo: CargoSmart )

The GSBN’s test project will be automating the flow of documents, invoices, and cargo release for the carriage of dangerous goods. The test, with a start date of December 2018, aims to “digitize and organize documents and automatically connect with relevant parties to streamline the approval process.”

The new consortium comes four months after the debut of TradeLens, the blockchain joint venture of Maersk and IBM. Thanks to its early jump, TradeLens says it has recorded nearly 200 million transactions related to container shipping, and growing by one million per day.

TradeLens has already signed 94 organizations to trial its distributed ledger technology, including port operators, logistics firms and freight forwarders. The latest trials of the TradeLens platform involve the Canadian Border Services Agency and the Port of Montreal.