CargoX, the startup that is pioneering the use of blockchain in processing bill of lading has launched its CargoX Smart B/L platform today, which would be the first open and neutral blockchain platform in the shipping industry for real-world commercial use. FreightWaves spoke with Stefan Kukman, founder and CEO of CargoX, who emphasized the need for building a blockchain platform that stays neutral and open to all stakeholders.
“One of the questions we kept getting while we were developing this platform was why would anyone choose CargoX over platforms like the one developed by IBM and Maersk (CXE: MAERB.C.IX). I think it all comes down to competition. Because Maersk is a carrier, it is natural that none of its competitors would be using its platform,” he said. “It is the same with DP World or CMA CGM. It is a closed environment, and they are competitors to DHL, Schenker, Kuehne + Nagel, Agility – and those companies will not use the platform of a competitor.”
CargoX believes that this gives it a significant edge over the larger logistics firms and container lines that develop proprietary blockchain solutions. True to that, Maersk has found problems with attracting businesses to sign up to its platform, which further reinforces Kukman’s argument that the likelihood of carrier-related networks succeeding would be minimal.
The CargoX platform provides a decentralized and cryptographically secure environment that transfers freight shipping documents through a public blockchain network. It supports multi-user workflows, making it easy to customize for individuals and would also require very little investment from the customer’s end to use it. The essence, Kukman said, was about providing services for free, so that customers can have documents in their digital wallet with no cost attached to it.
“The system stores documents and data securely encrypted on a public globally accessible blockchain network. Companies don’t have to implement any new infrastructure. The network offers the benefit of data and document transactional history, so analytical tools and online archives are always available,” said CargoX in a statement.
Kukman explained that the idea behind the platform rose up when he kept hearing about the potential of blockchain, and the industry’s rush towards adopting the technology to optimize supply chains. “I think that is nonsense, because the supply chain is a process and everybody in the chain – even a forklift driver is a part of the supply chain,” he said. “If you want to optimize everything, then we would have to go really wide, and that is not possible with one blockchain smart contract.”
Kukman argued that blockchain platforms shouldn’t be treated and used as self-contained systems even if they do serve a particular purpose and solve a specific problem. “In order to get as much as possible from these technologies, we need to build modular systems that efficiently solve problems – and then use these solutions to construct larger systems,” he said. “The only way to do that is interoperability, and we need to be careful to make systems as open as possible from the start. CargoX took special care to design its platform with ultimate open architecture in mind.”
CargoX has had some recent success with presenting its solution. Last week, it won the IRU’s World Congress Startup competition, selected from among 77 startups from over 60 countries. A lot of shipping, freight forwarding, NVOCC, exporting and importing companies are now looking towards its platform as a way to store and send documents securely through blockchain, which Kukman believes, would only be a matter of time before there is a large-scale adoption of their platform.