AP Moller-Maersk and IBM plan industry-wide blockchain trading platform

Container shipping firm AP Moller-Maersk is to link with IBM to create an industry-wide blockchain-based trading platform.

The platform will be made available to the ocean shipping industry around the middle of this year. The blockchain technology will digitize the supply chain process from end to end, the companies said.

Maersk’s Chief Commercial Officer Vincent Clerc said that “the big thing that is missing from this industry to digitize and unleash the potential of the technology is really to create a form of utility that brings standards across the entire ecosystem”. He noted that documentation and bureaucracy could make up 20% of the cost of moving a container, adding that “there is a strong push from the end-customer to see this change. We may meet initial resistance form one part of the ecosystem. The success of the platform depends on acceptance of all participants.”

Clerc said that customs and port authorities in the US, Singapore, Netherlands and Guangdong province in China had shown interest in using the platform, while some other shipping companies were also interested.

The joint venture will be headed by the previous chief of Maersk Line’s North American operations, Michael J. White.