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Blockchain used in the global shipping

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MTI (Marine Transport International UK) has deployed the world’s first public blockchain solution in the global shipping industry.
MTI is an industry-leading freight forwarder based in the UK and the US. It provides sophisticated, technology-based freight forwarding solutions for global shipping companies worldwide.
Public blockchain technology will connect the supply chain together, in a way which the industry has never seen before. Furthermore, trust and partnership is reinforced with the blockchain, in an industry where such principles can at times be misunderstood.
It will allow companies to build efficient business ecosystems between supply chain parties or actors in the public blockchain. The blockchain will also accelerate the flow of data distributed between parties, whilst at the same time reducing reliance on the typical IT architecture that plaque companies today.
With millions of transactions processed each day in the shipping industry, the public blockchain will not only increase data efficiency, but also provide long term savings for EDI transmission (electronic data interchange) dependent companies.
MTI is using the TrustMe public blockchain technology and the services from predictive analytics expert Black Swan Data. The technology will be used within its SolasVGM product offering to enable the secure and open dissemination of shipping container information.
Since 1 July 2016, contracting governments to the International Maritime Organization’s SOLAS treaty (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) have been required to implement new requirements related to the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of packed containers. The new regulation puts the responsibility on the shipper to ensure that an accurate VGM is provided to the terminal/carrier for every container loaded prior to it being allowed to be shipped on-board on a vessel.
Using the TrustMe solution, VGM data is stored on the global blockchain, providing a permanent records visible to port officials, shippers and cargo owners. This replaces cumbersome logs, spreadsheets, data intermediaries and private databases. Previously, data has been deeply ingrained in old legacy systems. This causes delays in the development of new capabilities, hindering the ability for carriers to make rapid changes to services.
The blockchain is a data structure makes it possible to overcome these issues, creating a permanent digital public ledger of transactions which can be shared among a distributed network of computers. It uses cryptography to allow each participant on the network to add to a record on the ledger in a secure way without the need for a central authority. Designated parties can record and retrieve data from anywhere in the world using mobile phones, tablets and PCs, eliminating the need for costly, proprietary infrastructure.
Blockchain data is verified, immutable, and globally accessible, making it a perfect technology for solutions like the SolasVGM product.
Jody Cleworth, CEO of MTI, comments: “Blockchain has the ability to empower our industry into a true digital age. Instead of a VGM message being delivered sequentially to parties within the supply chain, our platform can provide a decentralised approach to delivering VGM messages.
“The sheer volume of containers processed per year means that safely decentralizing the management of these containers will radically reduce the complexities of shipping. A grass roots approach in collecting and storing information on the blockchain is how shippers will be able to reap the full benefits of the technology.
“We are now a public blockchain company and our focus is on delivering tangible benefits to global trade and all the actors within the supply chain.”
Antony Abell, MD of TrustMe, says: “Sectors such as banking and FinTech are attracting a lot of attention for their steps to adopt blockchain. But what we have here is an example for the shipping industry leading the way in executing a real, proven application of blockchain. We’re incredibly excited to be at the forefront of this development.”
Richard Mann, chief operating office of Black Swan, adds: “MTI continues to innovate and disrupt Maritime industry. We have been working closely with the MTI team for over 8 years and are delighted to see the direction they are taking at a time when regulatory change is creating significant opportunity for new business models in the industry.
In the face the regulatory change, MTI did not see an obstacle, but an opportunity to think outside of the box, future-proof itself and ultimately stand out from its competitors. The convergence of SolasVGM and the TrustMe blockchain technology further reinforces this. We are excited with MTI’s approach to this and are eager to see what comes next.”