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IBM Blockchain Peels A Fresh Use Case

Orange delivery demonstrates blockchain potential for shipping

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Crypto news is normally pretty dry, but a recent blockchain trial has managed to squeeze fresh juice from ledger technology.  Two leading freight companies have completed a delivery of oranges, with the exchange secured by an electronic Bill of Lading on the IBM Blockchain platform.

According to a joint press release issued last week, the shipment of 3,000 cartons of Mandarin oranges was delivered by Pacific International Lines, the 9th largest container company in the world, to Hupco Pte, a major importer in Singapore. The fruit, which symbolize prosperity, are a common gift during the Lunar New Year.

“With the use of IBM Blockchain powered e-BL,” the companies said, “the trial has produced a significant reduction in the administrative process of transferring the title deed from five to seven days to just one second.”

That’s a huge difference for international shipping, particularly for products as perishable as oranges. By using the blockchain to transfer ownership, the companies were able to reduce the costs for refrigeration and storage, as well as ensure the provenance of the documents via a tamper-proof ledger.

They also removed the possibility of document fraud, which they say accounts for forty percent of all maritime fraud.

“We are delighted with the outcome of the trial,” said Tay Khiam Back, CEO of Hupco, which received the shipment. “By using the e-BL, we have seen how the entire shipment process can be simplified and made more transparent with considerable cost savings.”

Our customers can expect their orders in a more timely manner,” Back added, “and, importantly, with freshness assured.”

The Bill of Lading is one of the most important documents in international shipping, used to document the ownership and provenance of cargo. But transferring ownership is a lengthy and time-consuming process, and subject to the possibilities of fraud or forgery. By handling paperwork through the IBM Blockchain, these costs can be greatly reduced.

“A blockchain-based trade network will be a game-changer,” said Harriet Green, CEO and Chairman of IBM Asia Pacific. “We have a great opportunity here with our partner PIL to revolutionize the documentation processes in a way that benefits the entire industry.”

Pacific International Lines, which sent the shipment, was equally impressed.  “We have received very positive feedback from the industry and authorities,” said Lisa Teo, Executive Director of PIL. “We are enthused by the possibilities of how our blockchain developments can transform and inject a much-needed boost in efficiency and innovation into the industry.”

The live trial was the result of a proof-of-concept for blockchain-based documentation, first announced in October of last year. By trialing the e-BL with a shipment of fresh produce, the partners demonstrated that the technology could be practically applied to real-world shipping.

Following the successful trial, the next step will be expanding future trials to new partners and shipments, according to IBM’s Asia-Pacifc CEO.  “The e-BL developed by the IBM Research Singapore will be critical in helping to establish an extensible ecosystem for trade,” Green said, thereby “enhancing trade efficiency and building trusted trade relationships among the industry players.”


The author is invested in digital assets. 

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