Port of Rotterdam looks at blockchain project for container logistics

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Europe’s largest port becomes the third in the region to start testing distributed ledger technology.

The Port of Rotterdam says it will conduct a month-long trial of blockchain aimed at container logistics.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority, which operates the largest port in Europe, says the blockchain pilot project will include Netherlands-based bank ABM Amro (Euronext: ABN.A) and the enterprise technology arm of Korea’s Samsung (LSE: SMSN).

The project’s goal is “a complete, paperless integration of physical, administrative and financial streams within international distribution chains,” the Port of Rotterdam said in a statement. It said transporting a container can involve up to 28 parties which have to trade paper documentation to move a container.

“Currently payments, administration and the physical transportation of containers still take place entirely via separate circuits,” said Paul Smits, the Port of Rotterdam Authority’s chief financial officer. ‘This results in inefficiency as many parties are involved and everything is organised via paper documentation.”

BlockLab, a local start-up funded by the Port and the City of Rotterdam, will be developing the project.

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Daphne de Kluis, the chief executive of ABN Amro’s commercial banking, says the project aims to integrate workflow management, track and trace, digitization of paper documentation such as waybills and the financing of handled freight or services.

“This will make the logistics chain more transparent and efficient, and millions of euros can be saved in the long term,” she said.

The pilot involves the transport of a container from a factory in Asia to a location in the Netherlands. In the first instance, the pilot will be implemented by the three parties, but the cooperative network will then become open for other parties to join. The pilot starts in January next year, and the results will be announced in February 2019.

The trial project is one of several launched to test blockchain. Last year, the Port of Antwerp started a project with Belgium’s NxtPort. The Port of Antwerp also plans to collaborate with Abu Dhabi’s Maqta Gateway on blockchain solutions for ports. Associated British Ports plans to also test blockchain technology developed by Marine Transport International.