Technology

Blockchain for shipping: R3 partners with Tramés, IMDA

R3 Head of APAC Amit Ghosh touts the benefits of using blockchain technology for the shipping industry. Image credit: R3
R3 Head of APAC Amit Ghosh touts the benefits of using blockchain technology for the shipping industry. Image credit: R3

Proving that blockchain can be a gamechanger for global shipping, enterprise software firm R3 has announced a partnership with Tramés and Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

“When it comes to paper-based documents such as bill of lading, blockchain technology is a perfect fit as it eliminates the need for an intermediary or third party due to its decentralized nature — allowing peers on the network to transact directly with each other,” R3 Head of APAC Amit Ghosh told Digital Life Asia.

Using blockchain solutions for shipping

The Memorandum of Intent will support the collaboration and adoption of a new digital solution built by Singapore-based tech startup Tramés, using Corda Enterprise, R3’s blockchain application development platform, and IMDA’s TradeTrust digital utility to support the issuance and verification as well as the operation of digitalized documents including electronic transferable records.

What are the main benefits of deploying blockchain technology for this initiative?

“The current trade and logistics landscape is plagued with manual processes and siloed systems. The sheer number of parties involved, coupled with differing channels of transmission (i.e. emails, text, physical documents) has resulted in an extraordinary amount of delays and potentially inaccurate information. In addition, most solutions are high in cost and difficult to justify in terms of return on investment — especially when the onboarding process can take weeks or even months. 

“This is where blockchain technology through Corda comes into play — creating a unique and auditable asset that prevents duplicate and inaccurate information. Corda also ensures security, high performance, and reliability of data that is being transferred on the blockchain — while enabling customers to have full control over their data, how it’s managed, and when to share it. As databases are synced across a trustworthy ecosystem and transactions verified by the appropriate parties involved, there is one version of truth shared across all transacting parties– meaning all data remains immutable, transparent and secure. In addition, Corda works with existing legacy systems to effectively streamline the digital transformation process, saving businesses time, operational friction, and substantial amounts of capital in the form of operating costs,” Ghosh said.

Business continuity

This partnership provides Tramés early access to Corda eBL, an application accelerator for digital trade solutions on Corda Enterprise, via R3’s early adopter program. Corda eBL will empower Tramés to extend the functionality of TradeTrust to enable the secure, end-to-end management and transfer of electronic bills of lading (eBLs) across Corda business networks.

How will this initiative benefit enterprises and their customers, particularly as the world tries to recover from the disruption of supply chains?

“The pandemic has revealed flaws in the supply chain industry due to the limitations of outdated paper-based processes — while highlighting that digitization is not just a solution for convenience, but an essential element to ensure business continuity. 

“With more than 90% of traded goods being moved by sea, the bill of lading is one of the most important documents used in international trade and the last piece of the puzzle for a truly end-to-end digital trade.

“Through Corda, enterprises are now able to provide a fully digital solution for their customers that reduces physical contact — allowing businesses to perform and thrive in the new normal. On top of that, electronic bill of lading through blockchain technology will enable enterprises to reap the benefits of cost savings, efficiencies and risk mitigation,” Ghosh said.

Digital interconnection

Infocomm Media Development Authority Deputy Chief Executive Kiren Kumar says this initiative will greatly benefit global trade. Image credit: IMDA
Infocomm Media Development Authority Deputy Chief Executive Kiren Kumar says this initiative will greatly benefit global trade. Image credit: IMDA

“To support trade digitalization, Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to legally recognize the creation and use of electronic transferable records such as e-bills of lading. Another key thrust is the TradeTrust digital utility to support the exchange of electronic trade documents.

“We are pleased to collaborate with R3 and Tramés to bridge the TradeTrust network and the Corda eBL to enable digital interconnection to a wider ecosystem of trading partners,” said IMDA Deputy Chief Executive Kiren Kumar in a press statement.

Tramés CEO and Co-Founder Kevin Lim believes in a paperless future for trade and transportation operations. Image credit: Tramés
Tramés CEO and Co-Founder Kevin Lim believes in a paperless future for trade and transportation operations. Image credit: Tramés

“The bill of lading has traditionally been the most challenging shipping document to digitalize, primarily due to issues on legislation and scalability. We are extremely excited, as a pioneer, to be partnering with R3 and IMDA on the new groundbreaking eBL offering that will lay the foundation for trade and transportation operations to be paperless in the future.

“The eBL solution will serve as the bridge to connect supply chains across the physical goods, information and financial layer, to enable efficient operations, quicker financing and overall uplifting of the industry,” said Tramés CEO and Co-Founder Kevin Lim in a press statement.

Through this partnership, the blockchain revolution is coming to the shipping industry.

Who’s next?