Shipping lines join block chain platform

Reuters (

Published: 13 hours ago

COPENHAGEN — Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) and CMA CGM are to join market leader Maersk in a block chain platform aimed at limiting a costly paper trail in the industry.

With MSC and French-based CMA CGM, the second- and fourth-largest container shipping companies in the world, joining the platform, nearly half of all cargo being shipped by sea —which accounts for 90 per cent of traded goods worldwide — will be tracked using it.

More than 100 companies, port authorities, have signed up for the platform led by Copenhagen-based Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping company.

The participation of key players in the platform, launched last year in collaboration with IBM, is seen as crucial for cutting costs in an industry that has seen little innovation since the container was invented in the 1950s.

“Still lots of processes in our industry actually predate the container,” Maersk executive vice president Vincent Clerc said in an interview.

“Even today customers live with the administrative burden of having to maintain the huge amount of paperwork and not having visibility of what is happening with their goods,” he said, calling MSC and CMA CGM’s participation a game changer.

The block chain platform, named TradeLens, helps customers, shipping lines, freight forwarders, port authorities and customs authorities manage and track the paper trail by digitizing the supply chain process.

CMA CGM, which is also part of a block chain initiative with Asian shipping firms, said rival lines would all benefit from TradeLens having greater scale.

“The fact that we are joining forces and creating a standard in the industry is much more powerful,” Rodolphe Saade, CMA CGM’s chairman and chief executive, told Reuters.