Yesterday Israeli ZIM Integrated Shipping Services announced it has signed on to the TradeLens blockchain shipping solution. The platform is a joint development between the world’s largest container shipper Maersk and IBM. Some have claimed Maersk’s involvement as a disincentive for other shipping lines to get involved. So the signing of the world’s 11th largest carrier is a massive win.
The TradeLens platform aims to bring together different parties including carriers, freight forwarders, customs officials and others. The ultimate aim is to digitize the documentation process through collaboration, but still to maintain privacy.
“What makes the solution so effective is its ability to deliver these benefits while still allowing carriers like ZIM and others to maintain their competitive advantages,” said Mike White, TradeLens leader for Maersk. “The more carriers and other ecosystem members that join the platform, the closer we come to bringing about a new era in global trade.”
While TradeLens has had some success in signing up ports and terminals, to date the only container companies have been Maersk, its subsidiary Hamburg Sud, and the world’s tenth largest shipper, Pacific International Lines (PIL).
ZIM has been experimenting with blockchain since at least 2017 including with fellow Israeli startup Wave which has a blockchain for Bills of Lading.
“We are very pleased to join TradeLens, as part of our vision to be at the forefront of digital innovation in shipping,” said Eyal Ben Amram, ZIM CIO. “ZIM endorses a proactive approach of promoting and investing in innovative digital solutions, such as the pioneering blockchain-based electronic Bill of Lading initiative, in collaboration with Wave Inc, and the recent investment in Ladingo, a ground-breaking e-commerce solution”.
To date, the two biggest competitors are the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) which includes five of the top ten carriers, and a joint solution between Accenture and the world’s largest freight forwarder, Kuehne + Nagel.