Many doubts and uncertainty surrounding the success of transmission and handover of electronic bills of lading (eBL) between two different eBL platforms was put to rest recently when CargoX, one of the leading provider of electronic trade data transfer solutions successfully concluded the first exchange of an eBL with a competing platform, edoxOnline.
A press release from CargoX advises that the end-to-end digital transfer process was completed in just 6 minutes from the time the eBL was created by the shipping line at the port of origin till it was duly endorsed by the shipper and consignee and surrendered to the shipping line at the destination using both CargoX and edoxOnline platforms.
What is an electronic bill of lading?
An eBL is a digital version of a traditional paper bill of lading, a document used in transporting goods by sea, air, or land. An eBL typically contains the same information as a paper bill of lading, including details about the shipper, the consignee, the goods being transported, and the terms and conditions of the shipment.
The main difference between an eBL and a paper bill of lading is that the former is created and stored electronically, using computer systems and networks, rather than printed on paper.
McKinsey and Company recently completed a study on trade digitalization, concluding that eBL could save $6.5 billion in direct costs while allowing $40 billion in global trade by streamlining trade documentation, a paper-intensive and resource-consuming process.
What problem has been solved?
A recent industry survey of 400 logistics executives and supply chain experts by CargoX, found that (among other issues), 45% of respondents said issues of interoperability and collaboration with other digital platforms were a major obstacle in the adoption of digital trade documentation transfer.
This interoperability problem has now been solved with the collaboration between CargoX and edoxOnline and the interoperability has proved successful as it enabled a secure, rapid and efficient transfer of title documents between parties using different eBL platforms, unleashing powerful velocity and efficiency for global trade and the entire shipping industry.
Commenting on this milestone, Stefan Kukman, founder and CEO of CargoX said, “We are proud to be part of this first-in-history interoperability launch between eBL platforms. Distributed global computing solutions have emerged as an alternative to centralized systems.
It is only logical that eBL platforms provide interoperability between them to avoid centralization and market manipulation. We support standards-driven interoperability, and we firmly believe this is good for all economic operators and governmental entities participating in global trade.”
“Interoperability is not just a word – It includes strong compliance with open-source digital standards published by DCSA and implementation of these standards in each solution that shall participate in the global eBL market. Interoperability will enable companies and governmental entities to choose their preferred provider and exchange electronic trade documents with other entities, regardless of which platform they are using,” said Peter Kern, CCO at CargoX.
How does the transfer work?
Transferring the BL control (possession & title) is accomplished by sending a “transfer block” from the sending platform to the receiving platform.
A transfer block is a single JSON structure that includes (i) data of the BL according to the DCSA transport document specification being tested in the proof of concept; and (ii) the complete endorsement chain as signed eblEnvelopes are transferred between platforms.
The endorsement chain includes the signature of the eblEnvelope – signed with the private key of the sending platform, the SHA-256 hash of the eblEnvelope and the eblEnvelope itself. The sending platform signs the EBL envelope. This signature and the hash of the eblEnvelope are transferred alongside the eblEnvelope so the receiving party can verify receipt.
“The digitalization of international trade processes and documents is our core business,” said Alejandro Pernias, CEO of Global Share (edoxOnline). “We are committed to working with DCSA to help further the adoption of digital documents in international trade. Having a standardized framework that ensures interoperability will help the industry provide a better customer experience while reducing paper and carbon footprint.”
The final obstacle to adopting electronic bills of lading has now been overcome and it is easy for everyone to optimize their eBL now.