IPCSA to Develop Blockchain Bill of Lading
The International Port Community Systems Association’s (IPCSA) announced that it is expanding its initiatives designed to advance blockchain bill of lading. Like several other organizations and partnerships, the IPCSA members are working to develop standardization and proof-of-concept of blockchain applications in logistics and e-commerce.
As part of the initiative, the Chinese e-commerce and technology group Alibaba will be expanding its work with the project participating in a new blockchain project with the organizations’ joint Logistics Visibility Task Force. Alibaba also recently announced that it would be working with the China Merchants Port Group in an effort to use blockchain to develop smart port technology.
Alibaba and the IPCSA have been working together since 2018 including a project in collaboration with China’s national logistics information shared network), LOGINK, where they established a global intelligent logistics network, named the Logistics Visibility Task Force. The task force focused on the development of track and trace solutions and the use of ISO standards. Alibaba is now also joining the IPCSA blockchain bill of lading initiative.
“The use of blockchain in transferring an electronic Bill of Lading is expected to deliver significant savings in time and money to all participants in the supply chain while maintaining a high level of information security and preventing forgeries,” said Alibaba Cainiao Network’s CTO, Gu Xuemei. “In addition, Alibaba Cainiao Network hopes to cooperate with industry chain partners to build global blockchain application standards for logistics and e-commerce.”
The IPCSA blockchain bill of lading initiative is being led by an IPCSA member, Israel Ports Company, which operates the Israeli Ports Community System (IPCS). According to the IPCSA, Israel Ports Company recently ran several successful pilots using blockchain technology for transferring electronic bills of lading.
One of the pilot projects involved the shipment of cargo via ZIM Shipping Company from Israel to Ukraine, where IPCSA member PPL 33-35 operates that country’s Port Community System. A bill of lading was electronically issued by the shipping company and transferred to the exporter and then to the importer in the Ukraine and Spain. During the test, the system constantly provided information as to which party was holding the electronic bill of lading together with the status of the cargo.
“There are numerous strong reasons for using blockchain technology for bills of lading. Blockchain is transferring an asset and there is huge value in linking the consignment to the information that Port Community Systems hold,” said Richard Morton, secretary-general of IPCSA. “This can match the bill of lading to any ‘event’ during the movement of the cargo – for example, that the cargo has been loaded on the ship, arrived at the port, been unloaded, been cleared by customs, or exited the gate. There are multiple parties involved in this process – shippers, shipping lines, importers, banks, forwarders, agents, and so on. By matching information in this way, nodes can be added to the blockchain relevant to specific partners.”
In detailing its blockchain initiatives, the IPCSA said that it also welcomes the recent Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) initiative to help standardize the bill of lading. IPCSA believes that each of these initiatives will help in the acceptance of an eBill of Lading.
IPCSA is an association of electronic exchange platforms which includes Port Community Systems, Cargo Community Systems, Sea and Air Port Authorities, and Single Window Operators. The Association has members operating in 40 countries across the globe.