IBM brings blockchain use case to life through e-BL

A Blockchain-based Bill of Lading has been successfully tested. In a collaboration between IBM and Pacific International Lines (PIL), a shipment documentation between China and Singapore was executed within a second.

PIL, the world’s 9th largest containership operator, used IBM’s Blockchain technology to hasten shipping of 28 tons Mandarin oranges to Singapore for Lunar New Year. 

A Bill of Lading is an important documentation in facilitating international trade. It is a legally binding document bearing evidence of contract of carriage. It also has commercial information of goods as well as doubling up as a receipt. Importantly, Bills of Lading are used by banks to finance trading.

Traditionally, Bills of Lading are mailed to the consigned. The process takes between of 5 – 7 days to deliver. This is not only inefficient as it is slow and costly, it also poses danger to the integrity of such a crucial document.

Through blockchain technology, participating entities are able to have instant, tamper-proof tracking at no extra cost. In a complex logistics network that involves various points of cooperation such as government entities, banks, agencies, ports & terminals and shippers, a decentralized mode of communication highly simplifies processes. 

Hupco Pte Ltd (‘’Hupco’’), the participating client in the pilot, expressed satisfaction and confidence that the success signaled improvements to come for both shippers and consumers. Faster collection enabled by e-BL will help shippers reduce costs in refrigeration, port storage fees as well as strengthening of security – consequently preventing fraud. Consumers on the other hand can be assured of fresh goods delivered timely.

IBM has been developing blockchain solutions for supply chains. Harriet Green, Asia Pacific IBM CEO and Chair commented;

“A Blockchain-based trade network will be a game-changer….. The e-BL developed by the IBM Research Singapore will be critical in helping to establish an extensible ecosystem for trade, thus expectedly enhancing trade efficiently and building trusted trade relationships among the industry players.”

The collaboration to create the e-BL is part of PIL’s greater strategy to use blockchain. PIL intends to extend e-BL to shadow an end to end shipment in real time. Ultimately, it wants to ‘’create an intermodal transport logistics ecosystem that incorporates the use of Blockchain.”

A similar trial from Singapore to Brunei for a negotiable e-BL was also carried out. Notable participants included Bank of China Limited Singapore Branch (BOC). This is set to create an ecosystem to facilitate transactions and settlement by enhancing the process of issuing Letter of Credit and Guarantee.

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