COSCO Shipping Group (COSCO) has partnered with Bank of China to pilot a blockchain-based Bill of Lading platform to ease the flow of cross-border trade.
The carrier said the Shanghai Huizhong Automotive Manufacturing Co. and Saudi Basic Industries Corpooration (SABIC) will be the first participants of the pilot, for which Ant Group will provide technological support.
In a statement, COSCO said the cross-chain platform will take full advantage of blockchain technology to provide customers with a paperless service.
Participants on the platform, such as shipping lines, import and export enterprises and banks, will be able to update related trade information in a safe and trustworthy manner.
Cargo flow, information flow and capital are closely integrated to provide a trusted digital foundation for international trade, which is highly recognised by pilot customers.
Blockchain-bases or digital Bills of Lading have become increasingly important to the flow of trade and the maritime industry as ports, terminals and other stakeholders adapt to new working conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some regions, in particular major thoroughfares of trade such as India, have suffered from severe congestion as vital documentation, such as the Bill of Lading, has been unsigned, which has made it impossible to process cargo.
This problem has exacerbated as China recovers from the worst effects of the pandemic and resumes exports, which has increased the burden on ports.
At an exclusive Port Technology International webinar earlier in 2020 it was suggested that the pandemic will accelerate the use of a digital Bill of Lading as stakeholders invest in ways to avoid said delays.
Additionally, the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) and the IMO have both said the maritime industry needs greater digitalisation to recover from the pandemic.