The joint venture will be headquartered in the New York metropolitan area and is expected to be up and running within six months, pending regulatory approval.
Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk and IBM have announced a blockchain joint venture for secure trade in the shipping sector.
The venture will offer a jointly developed global trade digitization platform built on open standards and designed for shippers. “It will address the need to provide more transparency and simplicity in the movement of goods across borders and trading zones,” the two companies said.
Two core capabilities will be commercialized, Maersk said, including a shipping information pipeline to provide end-to-end supply chain visibility and a paperless trade function that will digitize and automate paperwork filings.
Maersk and IBM will utilize blockchain technology as well as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics, delivered via IBM services within the joint venture. The platform is built on IBM blockchain technology, which is provided through the IBM cloud and powered by Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, a blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by the Linux Foundation, said Maersk.
“This new company marks a milestone in our strategic efforts to drive the digitization of global trade. 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,” said Vincent Clerc, chief commercial officer at Maersk and future chairman of the board of the new joint venture. “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.”
IBM and Maersk began a blockchain collaboration in June 2016 and initially announced its project in March 2017. Multiple parties have piloted the platform, including DuPont, Dow Chemical, Tetra Pak, Port Houston, Rotterdam Port Community System Portbase, the Customs Administration of the Netherlands, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said Maersk.
According to Maersk, additional customs and government authorities, including Singapore Customs and Peruvian Customs, will pilot the platform this year.
Global terminal operators APM Terminals and PSA International will use the platform to enrich port collaboration and improve terminal planning.
With support from Guangdong Inspection and Quarantine Bureau by connecting to its Global Quality Traceability System for imports and exports, the platform can also connect users to important trade corridors in and out of China.
“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,” said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain. “Our joint venture with Maersk means we can now speed adoption of this exciting technology with the millions of organizations who play vital roles in one of the most complex and important networks in the world, the global supply chain. We believe blockchain will now emerge in this market as the leading way companies seize new untapped economic opportunities.”
To address the specific needs of the industry, Maersk and IBM are establishing an advisory board of industry experts to help further shape the platform and services, provide guidance and feedback on important industry factors, and drive open standards. Maersk and IBM have named Michael J. White, former president of Maersk Line in North America, as CEO of the new company.
“Today, a vast amount of resources are wasted due to inefficient and error-prone manual processes,” he said. “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. Our ambition is to apply these learnings to establish a fully open platform whereby all players in the global supply chain can participate and extract significant value. We look forward to further expanding our ecosystem of partners as we progress toward a global solution.”
The joint venture is dependent upon regulatory approval, but the business expects to be up and running within six months. The new company will be headquartered in the New York metropolitan area, said Maersk.