Toyota Group’s trading branch Toyota Tsusho announced the launch of BunkerNote, an app that implements blockchain technology to manage marine fuel orders for the shipping industry. This will be the first centrally managed cloud service in the Japanese bunkering industry and Toyota Tsusho expects companies to start using the solution in June of this year.
In Japan, bunker oil processes are significantly behind in digitization. Orders are placed by phone and require constant interaction and exchange of information between all relevant parties. The process relies on paper documents that can be lost, spoiled, and need to be exchanged from party to party, which is undesirable during the pandemic. Overall, the process is time consuming and inefficient.
BunkerNote is addressing this by digitizing all the bunker oil paperwork. Orders, confirmation of deliveries, raising invoices, and receipt of the invoice can all be carried out online and shared with relevant parties in real-time. The app creates a centralized system so that information only needs to be shared once for all participants in the transaction to have access to it and carry out their specific roles in the trade.
Blockchain ensures the information is accurate and that the data is secured. Encryption technology creates a chain in the transaction history so that information regarding a specific order cannot be modified once it is entered into the app, reducing opportunities for fraud. The data is distributed across a network that is shared with and managed by relevant entities in the industry.
Toyota Tsusho is one of the biggest players in the bunker oil industry in Japan. While it is now a highly diversified business, its roots were in shipping Toyota cars abroad.
Meanwhile, while Toyota’s solution might currently be the most relevant initiative in Japan’s bunker oil business, other companies and smaller startups are also addressing serious industry issues. Last year London-based BunkerTrace launched a fuel traceability solution that tracks bunker oil movement through synthetic DNA. This helps ensure the fuel sold is of the right quality, particularly the sulfur content. The startup now has a commercial deal with ship manager Marfin Management. In addition, Biofuel company GoodFuels has carried pilots with blockchain company BLOC, which also collaborates with BunkerTrace for oil traceability.