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IBM-Maersk Blockchain Platform Adds 92 Clients As Part Of Global Launch Posted on Aug 09 - 2018

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Some of the largest supply chain companies in the world have begun the process of moving their work to a blockchain. A previously unnamed collaborative effort between the world’s largest shipping company, Maersk, and IBM, has now grown to 92 participants and been dubbed: TradeLens.

Far from an early prototype, the blockchain platform has been quietly orchestrating global trade with less reliance on middlemen for a year, resulting in 154 million shipping events in ports around the world, and is now growing at a rate of one million per day.

The cooperative effort now also includes Germany-based Hamburg Sud, which Maersk bought last year for $4 billion and U.S.-based Pacific International Lines, along with numerous customs authorities, cargo owners, and freight forwarders.

Collectively, the shipping companies account for more than 20% of the global supply chain market share, with 20 port and terminal operators in Singapore, the United States, Holland and more, serving 235 marine gateways around the world.

But perhaps more importantly, as of today, the platform is emerging from its beta test, is now accepting early adopter applications, and is announcing a new custom smart contract service for executing complex shipping orders with fewer middlemen.

“We have seen a lot of skeptics talk about the validity of blockchain solutions,” said IBM general manager and head of blockchain, Marie Wieck. “And I think with over 90 organizations and over 150 million events captured on the system we really are seeing proof in the pudding in terms of where people are spending their time to get benefits from blockchain.”

TradeLens gives users access to their own blockchain node similar to those on the bitcoin blockchain that lets users send money without the need of banks. But in the case of TradeLens, a shipper can cut out as many as five middlemen, even for simple queries such as identifying the location of a shipping container.

At stake is what Transparency Market Research expects will be a $32.9 billion global supply chain software business by 2026. As far back as 2015, the World Trade Organization estimated that simplifying the global supply chain could reduce costs among users by as much as 17.5%, with developing nations expected to see as much as a 35% increase in exports as they leap frog over legacy technology platforms.

“We think that this really levels the playing field in terms of participants' access to a global platform, as well as sharing information economically,” said Wieck. “The scale that is building here is making that even more affordable.”

While the exact potential savings vary, Wieck says users can cut as much as 40% on shipping by compressing the time between each step to almost zero, and saving “thousands of dollars” per transaction. Additionally, Wieck expects users will be able to more effectively collaborate by having a real-time view of which products need shipping, and the location of the nearest empty containers. View More

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