International seaborne freight seems like a perfect match for blockchain. Some of the largest port operators in the world are working on blockchain-based platforms to streamline operations. Abu Dhabi Ports’ subsidiary Maqta Gateway just announced they would be launching an international blockchain pilot in Belgium, with the Port of Antwerp.
The Port of Antwerp and Maqta Gateway signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will allow the two companies to implement Maqta’s Silsal system on a limited basis. Under the pilot program, the two ports will use the Silsal platform to track goods that are traded between Belgium and Abu Dhabi. They believe that tracking cargo and establishing chain-of-custody will be easier with blockchain technology.
For a new platform, Silsal has moved from development to real-world testing rapidly. The blockchain platform was announced to the public in June of this year. The goal of the platform is to grow past this pilot program, and move into a wider role globally.
Abu Dhabi Ports is a massive logistics provider that manages 11 major ports in two nations. Their CEO, Mohamed Juma Al, thinks that the pilot will create, “fast, reliable, and secure,” services for their clients. He also said that Abu Dhabi Ports will, “continue to work towards using blockchain,” in concert with other cutting edge tech so they can, “transform the Emirate’s trade and logistics sectors.”
Logistics Providers Embrace Blockchain
The Port of Valencia is also looking for ways to integrate new technology into a business that has been notoriously resistant to change.
Jose Garcia de la Guía, who is the head of new technologies at the port of Valencia, said that, “Starting from Valencia, we offer to use blockchain as a strategic option to provide transparency of logistic chain, from end to end, going further than our port itself. That means we’re planning to apply cloud technologies not only with our partners from Port Community Systems but also with all others,” at an industry conference held in the Netherlands.
A, “port without papers,” is the goal of the program that The Port of Valencia is spearheading, which would drive down the cost of transportation substantially. These programs could probably be integrated into trade finance programs that have similar goals. The banks that issue trade finance could benefit from a transparent blockchain tracking system, which delivers information to a centralized database in near real time.
As the second largest port in Spain, Valencia will be a good trial run of a next-generation port system that uses blockchain to remove unnecessary hassles from the shipping process. Rotterdam is home to the largest port in Europe, and they have launched BlockLab. The new group will be targeting blockchain driven real-time data delivery systems, which can be accessed by anyone in their logistics ecosystem.
FedEx Wants in on Blockchain Too
A port operator’s business model is different from a private parcel service, but they both appear to see value in blockchain. Key people at UPS and FedEX have spoken out in favor of blockchain in the last few months.
FedEx is a member of both Hyperledger, and Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA). Their Senior Vice President for IT, Kevin Humphries, said that blockchain has, “big implications” for a number of vital services, including supply chains, logistics, and transportation. Hyperledger isn’t specific to logistics, and despite being an open source platform, has attracted companies like Intel, JP Morgan and Deutsche Boerse as members.
Last month FedEx Chief Information Officer, Robert Carter, said that, “I think that there is an opportunity to usher in two pretty fundamental changes in logistics chains using blockchain technology,” on an earnings call.
Mr. Carter went on to discuss how smart-contract could revolutionize delivery systems, “The second big area of potential impact is blockchain’s smart contracts capability. Blockchains have the ability to embed contractual notions into that custody chain. Things like specific delivery commitments, dispute resolution. All of those kinds of things can be embedded into a blockchain to help satisfy the additional transactions that go on around the space of a shipment.”
The capabilities that blockchain offers to logistics providers are manifold. While it seems like other industries are pushing for real-world blockchain adoption faster than the global shipping sector, blockchain could be hitting the world’s ports in the near future.