The Australian Border Force (ABF), Singapore Customs and the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) conducted a blockchain trial with industry partners. The aim was to see if the trade documents issued by two separate systems can be verified by each other. ANZ Bank, Standard Chartered, DBS Bank and Rio Tinto also participated.
A key trade document is the Certificate of Origin (COO), which specifies in which country the imported goods were originally produced. Customs departments use COOs to decide whether the goods should be subject to tariffs or import duties and are typically issued by the Chamber of Commerce of the exporter. Hence the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry also participated in the trial.
If documents can be verified faster and automatically, it saves time and money.
The goal was to test the interoperability between two systems for verified trade documents, the ABF’s Intergovernmental Ledger (IGL) and IMDA’s TradeTrust. Unique proofs are incorporated in a QR code in Australian-generated COOs, which can be scanned to verify authenticity. As part of the test, Singapore Customs was able to accept Australian digital COOs.
Australia’s IGL is a platform that uses blockchain and verifiable credentials and is based on the TradeTrust Framework developed by IMDA. The framework includes both standards and a reference software implementation. According to the ABF the Intergovernmental Ledger is still at a proof of concept stage.
“We understand this collaboration is among the first to involve multiple government agencies from two countries to achieve cross-border document interoperability,” said ABF Commissioner Michael Outram.
“Digital verification and verifiable documents show promise as a ‘circuit-breaker’ to disrupt persistent paper-based evidence required by authorities.”
In early 2019, Singapore said it would develop TradeTrust for electronic bills of lading (eBL) which has been trialed this year. DBS and commodities firm Trafigura were involved in the first TradeTrust transaction in 2019. A few months later, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and 17 firms signed a cooperation agreement to develop TradeTrust.