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ZIM to roll out blockchain

ZIM is moving forward with its plan to roll out blockchain technology to replace paper bills of lading and other documentation.

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Following its November 2017 announcement on what ZIM called “the first-ever pilot of paperless Bills-of-Lading based on blockchain technology”, ZIM says it and “selected leading customers have been testing the new Platform as a solution for trade activities on multiple shipping lanes”.

“Following the successful pilot, accomplished with the cooperation of Wave Ltd. and Sparx Logistics, ZIM continued to evaluate the platform in different trade lanes with more customers. The exploratory transactions indicated that the blockchain technology can not only replace paper but also improve current activities which rely on emails, fax and other existing tools.

“In two recent transactions, Original Bill of Ladings were transferred to the receiver within under two hours from Vessel’s departure, a process that ordinarily takes days or even weeks. All documentation processes, including endorsements, ownership transfers etc. were performed over the blockchain-based platform. One consignment was shipped from Vietnam to the US East Coast, and a shipment of 11 High-Cube special containers were loaded in Koper and shipped to Haifa,” ZIM stated.

After successfully completing “dozens of shipments” with different freight forwarders and BCO’s, ZIM says it will begin offering eB/Ls to all its customers in select trades, starting in Q1 2019 with the Asia-South Africa and North America-Mediterranean trades. The carrier added that trades were chosen “due to their diverse activities and involved players”.

There are plenty of other blockchain pilots underway, including the TradeLens project announced by Maersk and IBM. Concerns have been expressed about the interoperability of different digital solutions being developed for the shipping industry, and the issue is one of the reasons leading players in the industry have established a group to tackle standardisation. ZIM said it “is pioneering the digitization efforts and have started involving other industry stakeholders for the exchange of knowledge and the creation of industry standards”.

Eyal Ben-Amram, ZIM CIO concluded: “Having gained considerable experience with this revolutionary technology, we are now moving forward. It’s part of our commitment to maximize digitization, and at the same time enhance our customer service levels and nurturing customer relations”.

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