Agility said it has agreed to identify events associated with individual shipments and to share and receive information about them via the distributed ledger blockchain technology IBM and Maersk have developed to streamline container shipping processes.
IBM and Maersk announced their initiative in January, with an aim of luring other parties - including freight forwarders, shippers and other liner carriers - toward its platform.
“Blockchain technology is going to make shipping cheaper, safer and more reliable,” said Essa Al-Saleh, chief executive officer of Agility Global Integrated Logistics. “As early adopters, companies like Agility can help Maersk and IBM understand the needs of shippers and develop standards that will make trade more efficient. We can help customers understand how to use blockchain to improve shipment visibility, eliminate paperwork, reduce errors, and shorten transit and clearance times.”
Agility noted that documentation and administration are estimated to account for one-fifth of the $1.8 trillion spent annually to move goods across borders.
There are a host of technology providers aiming to introduce blockchain-backed solutions into the international shipping industry across a number of application areas. Some are based on product provenance, some are linked to trade finance, while others essentially seek to migrate paper-based processes to a single system of record.
Additionally, standards organizations, like the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BITA), are aiming to bring a wide cross-section of freight entities across modes together to develop blockchain standards so that individual formats don’t evolve.
Part of the lure of blockchain is in providing a single standardized repository for data and transactions to occur. But what could happen is several repository solutions - each with their own format - emerging simultaneously. Experts believe this wouldn’t be the most optimal use of blockchain technology, as it would be merely replicating the individualized processes that occur today, only using blockchain encryption.