From the time the collaboration between Maersk Line and IBM was announced in January 2018 and the creation of TradeLens in August 2018, the blockchain-enabled shipping solution designed to promote efficient and secure global trade had many naysayers with predictions that the platform was doomed to fail..
Because this platform was initiated and created by Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping line, there were concerns by other carriers about joining the platform as there was no equal footing for them..
In fact, at one stage, CMA CGM and Hapag Lloyd publicly rejected the Maersk-IBM blockchain solution as unusable saying that in its current form, the solution was not relevant to CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd..
Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen has been quoted as saying “Technically the solution (by Maersk and IBM) could be a good platform, but it will require a governance that makes it an industry platform and not just a platform for Maersk and IBM. And this is the weakness we’re currently seeing in many of these initiatives, as each individual project claims to offer an industry platform that they themselves control. This is self-contradictory.
Without a joint solution, we’re going to waste a lot of money, and that would benefit no one.” He notes that liner companies need to join forces across the sector to develop a joint solution for the industry to ensure that the blockchain technology is used properly and makes the sector more efficient. If one could get five to seven carriers to work together, one could achieve meaningful progress in the field, and this would also benefit customers“..
Onboarding other carriers was an absolutely necessary condition for TradeLens as per Marvin Erdly, head of TradeLens at IBM Blockchain, who told CoinDesk “I won’t mince words here – we do need to get the other carriers on the platform. Without that network, we don’t have a product. That is the reality of the situation.“..
Fast forward 11 months to 2nd July 2019, TradeLens seems to have overcome the initial jitters, fears and concerns and now has the support of Maersk Line, Zim Lines, PIL, CMA CGM, MSC, Hapag Lloyd and ONE..
Hapag Lloyd and ONE became the latest carriers to sign up for the platform..
In a press release, Vincent Clerc, Chief Commercial Officer, A.P. Moller – Maersk said “The addition of more leading carriers to TradeLens will help global supply chain customers expand and explore the benefits of digitization and deliver new opportunities to the increasing number of TradeLens ecosystem participants across the global supply chain.
As a neutral industry platform, TradeLens offers supply chain visibility, ease of documentation and the potential of introducing new products on top of the platform. These attributes bring new opportunities for the Maersk transformation towards becoming an end-to-end container logistics company improving the experience and services we offer the customers.”
“Expanding digital collaboration is critical to the evolution of the container shipping industry. TradeLens has made significant progress in launching a much-needed transformation in the industry, including its partnership model.
Now, with five of the world’s six largest carriers committed to the platform, not to mention many other ecosystem participants, we can collectively accelerate that transformation to provide greater trust, transparency and collaboration across supply chains and help promote global trade.” said Martin Gnass, Managing Director Information Technology at Hapag-Lloyd.
The addition of these two global carriers means TradeLens customers now have access to major carriers in all three leading global vessel-sharing alliances (2M, THE Alliance, Ocean Alliance) on the platform..
“We believe this innovative approach based on open standards and open governance can benefit the entire industry while ultimately benefitting our customers who rely on the world’s shipping industry to transport global container volume of more than 120 million TEU across international borders each year.
The opportunities to drive greater innovation across the shipping supply chain are enormous and we are excited about the opportunity to provide our leadership and insight to help the platform continue to evolve.” said Noriaki Yamaga, Managing Director, Corporate & Innovation, Ocean Network Express.
As per the press release, Hapag-Lloyd and ONE will each operate a blockchain node, participate in consensus to validate transactions, host data, and assume a critical role of acting as Trust Anchors, or validators, for the network..
Both companies will be represented on the TradeLens Advisory Board, which will include members across the supply chain to advise on standards for neutrality and openness..
The attributes of blockchain technology are ideally suited for large networks of disparate partners.. Blockchain establishes a shared, immutable record of all the transactions that take place within a network and enables permissioned parties access to secured data in real time..
With the addition to Hapag Lloyd and ONE, 6 of the top 10 container lines in the world are now signed up to use the TradeLens platform which may see TradeLens move into monopoly territory as per reports and further strengthening the digital capabilities of carriers..
Only 4 of the Far Eastern Lines – Cosco, Evergreen, Yang Ming and Hyundai Merchant Marine remain outside of the Top 10..
We are forging ahead into a very interesting era indeed..