The Danish shipping company MAERSK and the American technology group IBM yesterday announced their intention to form a joint venture. The goal is to provide more efficient and secure methods for global commerce through the use of blockchain technology. The new company’s mission is to provide a co-developed digital platform for global commerce, based on open standards and tailored to the global shipping ecosystem.

The cost and complexity of global trade flows continues to grow. More than $ 4 trillion of goods are shipped annually and over 80% of all goods consumed daily come over the sea. The maximum cost of the necessary documents to handle the trade for many goods one-fifth of the actual physical transport costs. The World Economic Forum estimates that by removing barriers in international supply chains, world trade could grow by almost 15%, which would mean higher economic output and more jobs.

The capabilities of Blockchain technology provide an ideal foundation for large networks with many different partners. They work much like a shared ledger and provide shared, unalterable records of all transactions occurring within that network. In addition, they allow authorized partners access to the trusted data in real time. With the use of this technology, a completely new system of instructions and consents can be introduced into the flow of information. It allows the different trading partners to get a common view of the transaction that has been adopted by all and that also ensures trustworthiness and privacy.

Maersk, the world leader in container logistics, and IBM, the leader in blockchain, supply chain visibility, and enterprise interoperable solutions, will be using blockchain technologies, cloud-based open source technologies, artificial intelligence, IoT, and analytics Applications for the new platform deployed through IBM Services. It aims to help companies track the path of their goods across international borders. Manufacturers, shipping companies, hauliers, ports, terminals and customs authorities can benefit – and ultimately consumers.

“This new company represents a milestone in our strategic efforts to drive the digitization of global commerce. The potential of having a neutral, open digital platform for secure and easy information sharing is great, and everyone along the suppy chain can benefit from it. By combining our knowledge of trading in IBM’s blockchain and enterprise technology capabilities, we believe that this new company can make a real difference to the future of trading, “

says Vincent Clerc, Maersk’s Chief Commercial Officer and future Chief Executive Officer of the joint venture.

“The great progress IBM has made on blockchain shows that this technology can spur the emergence of new business models and play an important role in how the world will work together to build smarter business relationships in the future. Our joint venture with Maersk also means that we can now increase the speed of making this exciting technology available to millions of organizations that play an important role in one of the most complex and important networks – the global supply chain. We are confident that Blockchain will be the leading technology in this market for unlocking new business opportunities, “

says Bridget van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain.

IBM and Maersk launched a collaboration in June 2016 to jointly develop new blockchain and cloud-based technologies. Since then, various parties have tested the platform. These include DuPont, Dow Chemical, Tetra Pak, Port Houston, Rotterdam Port Community System Portbase, the Netherlands Customs, U.S. Patents. Customs and Border Protection.

The joint venture will enable IBM and Maersk to market their solutions and provide them to a larger group of global companies. Many of them have already expressed their interest and are now looking for ways to use the new platform. These include General Motors and Procter and Gamble, to simplify their own complex supply chains. As well as the transport and logistics company Agility Logistics, which would like to improve its customer service including customs clearance.

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