TradeLens: Major Shipping Firms Join Maersk’s IBM-Built Blockchain

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Danish conglomerate Maersk — the world’s most sprawling container ship business — has enlisted two of its industry’s other biggest titans to join its logistics-focused TradeLens platform, which leverages IBM blockchain technology.

Those two container ship companies are Marseille-based CMA CGM and Geneva-based Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC). Behind Maersk, they help round out the top five biggest maritime transport enterprises operating today.

IBM Tradelens

Accordingly, CMA CGM’s and MSC’s onboarding onto TradeLens means a significant plurality of the globe’s maritime cargo — almost 50 percent — will now be tracked by the blockchain system, which is being aimed at digitizing the shipping industry’s paper-intensive supply chains.

The boon comes after Maersk and IBM first announced the creation of the platform last August and their intentions to partner together on a blockchain last January. In then declaring the collaboration, Maersk’s TradeLen’s head Michael White said the smart contracts platform could help optimize global trade:

“It is about reducing global trade barriers and increasing efficiency across international supply chains, and bringing to market a trade platform for containerized shipping — connecting the entire supply chain ecosystem.”

To date, the platform’s value proposition has proved intriguing enough to win over prominent participants, including dozens of ports as well as customs authorities in Australia, the Netherlands, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and beyond.

Top IBM Blockchain Exec Departs the Company

In other IBM news, word broke on May 28th that Jesse Lund — one-time head of the tech power’s blockchain finance division — was no longer working at the company.

The reason for the parting of ways is unclear, though an IBM spokesperson has since officially confirmed the exit. For his part, Lund has also commented, saying “I’ve left IBM but am still optimistic about payments innovation” underpinned by blockchain tech.

While at IBM between early 2017 and this spring, Lund notably oversaw the enterprise’s participation in the Blockchain World Wire project, a cross-border payments network being made in collaboration with the backers of the Stellar network.

World Wire, which was launched for limited production in more than 70 countries earlier this month, accordingly relies on Stellar’s native asset, lumens (XLM). IBM has explained the system can streamline international money transfers:

“World Wire provides a more straight-through model for cross border payments using the Stellar protocol that makes money transfers point-to-point in lieu of the complexities of conventional correspondent banking.

On the news of Lund’s departure, Stellar co-founder Jed McCaleb said the operations of Blockchain World Wire would not be hindered by the personnel shift.

IBM No Stranger to Marrying Blockchain and Logistics

The advancement of the TradeLens platform comes as IBM has been heavily focusing on developing logistics solutions via blockchain in recent times.

Last month, German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen announced it would be using IBM’s in-house blockchain to track the “cobalt used in lithium-ion batteries” in the car maker’s supply chain.

Back in February, IBM declared it had joined forces with the non-profit organization Freshwater Trust and satellite maestros SweetSense to test the tracking of groundwater usage in California using blockchain.

The company also launched its IBM Food Trust last fall. As the service’s name suggests, the blockchain platform is designed to facilitate logistics around food industry supply chains.

Of course, while many say that blockchain tech generally has a limited set of viable use cases, logistics is typically hailed as one of those prime use cases. On the other hand, skeptics still contend that companies would be better off using mainstream database tech rather than blockchain for supply chain management.

Against that backdrop, IBM’s various blockchain plays in the logistics field are an open challenge to the contentions of those skeptics. If blockchain solutions do end up becoming the status quo in supply chains, IBM will have undoubtedly played a big role in ushering in that reality.


William M. Peaster is a professional writer and editor who specializes in the Ethereum, Dai, and Bitcoin beats in the cryptoeconomy. He's appeared in Blockonomi, Binance Academy, Bitsonline, and more. He enjoys tracking smart contracts, DAOs, dApps, and the Lightning Network. He's learning Solidity, too! Contact him on Telegram at @wmpeaster

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