Singapore containership operator Pacific International Lines has teamed with IBM on a blockchain trial involving the design and creation of an electronic bill of lading, the aim of which is to significantly enhance the documentation process in supply chain management.
The collaboration is being supported by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, Singapore Shipping Association, Infocomm Media Development Authority, Singapore Customs (National TradePlatform), and Bank of China Limited Singapore Branch (BOC).
A bill of lading is a physical document which banks rely on to provide trade financing. It is usually mailed to various parties, leaving it open to fraud, loss of the original document, document handling costs resulting in much inefficiency across the supply chain.
PIL and IBM have proposed using an electronic Bill of Lading (e-BL) to streamline and replicate the paper trail online on a blockchain ledger created by IBM. This will do away with the hard copy paper trail, cut unnecessary handling costs and the possibility of fraud, they claim.
Lisa Teo, Executive Director of PIL, says: “This is a big step forward for PIL. As an international shipping company, we believe we have a role to play in enhancing efficiencies within the intermodal transport logistics ecosystem. Working with a complex logistic network comprising ports and terminals, agencies, government entities, banks and shippers; systematic supply chain management is increasingly important to lower costs through the chain by cutting unnecessary expense, movements and handling.”
“Traditionally, information flow is predominantly handled via manual processes and the supply chain is slowed down when there are many points of communication within its framework. The use of blockchain technology to allow for the direct exchange of documents and information via the decentralised network to boost transparency, eliminate disputes forgeries and unnecessary risks will be key for this industry to progress.”
The plan is to extend the e-BL to shadow an end-to-end shipment in real-time.
Last year, PIL and the Port Authority of Singapore entered a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with IBM Singapore. This involved the three working on proof-of-concept blockchain solutions to enhance the security, transparency and efficiency of the supply chain network in south eastern Asia. Further details here.