IBM and Maersk transform supply chain with blockchain tech

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Maersk and IBM are looking to increase global trade by using the benefits of blockchain technology.

The two companies have announced a joint venture that they believe will provide a more efficient way to conduct global trade through optimising supply chains with blockchain.

The maximum cost of the required trade documentation to process and administer many goods (particularly ones going via ocean) can reach a fifth of the actual physical transportation costs, the companies say. By cutting these expenses, the amount of global trade could go up as much as 15 per cent, they claim.

The announcement also highlights how the use of AI, IoT and analytics can “help companies move and track goods digitally across international borders”.

“This new company marks a milestone in our strategic efforts to drive the digitisation 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 have been working on a new blockchain- and cloud-based technologies since June 2016. Since then, their products have been piloted by DuPoint, Dow Chemical, Tetra Pak, Port Houston, Rotterdam Port Community System Portbase, The Customs Administration of the Netherlands, as well as the US Customs and Border Protection.

The two companies are also forming an advisory board of industry experts, which should further shape the platform and its services.

At start, two core capabilities will be commercialised: a shipping information pipeline, providing end-to-end supply chain visibility; and paperless trade. After regulatory clearance, the two companies’ solutions should hit the market within six months.

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