Blockchain Supply chain Platform of Maersk & IBM is Piloted By 92 Firms
IBM and global shipping giant Maersk announced Wednesday that 94 corporations have signed up for piloting TradeLens, a blockchain based supply chain platform, after it was spun off from Maersk in January. Subsequently, they have christened the platform as TradeLens.
The platform has already attracted a range of entities, including port operators, custom authorities, shipping companies such as Pacific International Lines and logistics companies. All these firms have been testing the platform for a while.
Following the completion of the pilot stage, TradeLens is now offered to the participants of early adopter program. The platform will be made commercially available at the end of this year.
IBM and Maersk have defined the project as “joint collaboration,” instead of joint venture, in order to project the platform as open and neutral.
Michael White, head of global trade digitization at Maersk, said
“At the time of the launch, we wanted to be clear that we were not offering a bespoke Maersk- or IBM-only solution.”
Even though Maersk and IBM are the only two firms who have invested in the project and own the IP, White stressed that the platform is completely open to ecosystem participants.
White clarified “it was never about a joint venture,” despite Maersk press release defines it in that manner.
An IBM spokesperson stated that the actual 49-51 percent ownership share no longer applies under the revised “collaboration model.” Both firms will market together in accordance to the feedback received from other enterprises using the platform.
IBM and Maersk have decided to offer subscription based access to the TradeLens platform to interested parties on their own terms. This means IBM and Maersk will sign contract with their clients and receive all the fees and revenue. The revenues and other fees will not be shared between IBM and Maersk.
IBM and Maersk believe the arrangement will enable quick marketing of the platform as it allows more flexibility.
TradeLens is built on the Hyperledger Fabric based IBM blockchain platform. Commenting on the platform, Todd Scott, Vice President of global trade at IBM blockchain said
“We have architected all of these solutions so that it’s very easy for data to be exchanged between the two different blockchains – take TradeLens and IBM Food Trust for example – if clients were to be inclined.”
To popularize the open source supply chain ecosystem, TradeLens is offering its APIs to shipping industry. Furthermore, IBM and Maersk is working with associations related to shipping standard such as CEFACT and enterprises such as OpenShipping.org.
“On top of the bedrock of blockchain technology we are working with standards, and also have 125 or so APIs, and we are going to give all that access to the developer community so they can even create additional technologies of their own on top of it.”
However, not everyone is happy about the invitation. Sean Edwards, chairman of the International Trade and Forfaiting Association, said
“its fine for them [IBM and Maersk] to say ‘we are open for everyone to join,’ but all they are really saying is ‘come and use our system.”
TradeLens, however, is not the only blockchain platform available to this industry. There is TradeShift, a platform connecting over 1.50 million companies in 190 countries. Therefore, TradeLens would face a lot of difficulty in positioning itself as an open and neutral platform suitable to all industry players.
While discussing about trade finance, IBM stated that banks were part of the 92 partners who are piloting TradeLens. However, IBM refused to reveal the name. Both IBM and Maersk are optimistic that a plethora of opportunities await the TradeLens platform.
Maersk’s White finished by stating
“We have found is there are number of industries and institutions including financial institutions and insurance companies that are looking to take advantage of this platform.”