Maersk's Blockchain Trade Platform Gains Traction with Ports

Reefer storage at Cai Mep International Terminal (image courtesy APMT)

Published Jan 16, 2020 10:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Maersk - IBM blockchain-based supply chain platform known as TradeLens has been steadily racking up partnerships with ports and terminal operators, with about 90 signed up to date worldwide. The latest additions include the port of Salalah, Oman; Cái Mép International Terminal (CMIT) in Ho Chi Minh City; PSA; APMT; Global Container Terminals (GCT) in North America; and the national customs departments of Jordan and Thailand.

TradeLens is a blockchain-enabled digital platform for tracking containerized cargo, developed in a joint partnership between Maersk and IBM. It gives businesses and authorities along the supply chain a single source of shipping data, with one non-modifiable record of transactions. It uses encryption and permission-based sharing to keep participants' data secure. The idea is to organize all the authorization and communication steps that have to happen for every box. 

“By way of illustration, a seafood container export from Vietnam to U.S. has more than 30 shipping milestones and shipment data at more than 10 relevant entities with requirement of close tracking. When the cargo data is transparent . . . real-time information sharing at different stages by different entities in global supply chain will increase considerable efficiency for global trade flows," said Nguyen Xuan Ky, Cái Mép International Terminal's deputy general director.

Though a Maersk/IBM-led project, TradeLens is also used by MSC, ONE, CMA CGM and Hapag Lloyd. As it is a cooperative data-sharing project among multiple ocean carriers, it is subject to antitrust review by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission, which provided authorization for the partnership to proceed in late December. Its developers describe it as a neutral platform, accessible to all stakeholders.