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Hong Kong’s Modern Terminals to Pilot IBM-Maersk Blockchain Shipping Platform ‘TradeLens’

Modern Terminals Limited, the second largest container terminal operator in Hong Kong, has signed on to TradeLense, a global blockchain-enabled shipping platform spearheaded by IBM and Maersk, the South China Morning Post reported on Nov. 26th.

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Modern Terminals Limited has become the only Hong Kong-based participant of TradeLens, a blockchain solution which was unveiled in August and is designed to streamline processes in the global supply chain to deliver higher efficiency, security and lower cost. TradeLens is scheduled for a roll-out at the end of this year.

Modern Terminals’ managing director Peter Levesque thought the initiative offers a good way to digitize the largely manual and paper-based shipping industry and speed up customs clearance.

“That is the Holy Grail— one place to see the whole [supply chain] in one spot,” said Levesque in an interview with the South China Morning Post. “The platform would be the single system that shippers, freight forwarders, imports and terminal operators can all work with.”

According to the report, two new members are joining the blockchain network every week, with 105 in total at last count in October, including shipping companies, terminal and port operators and customs departments. A Maersk spokesperson said on Nov. 23 that the system captures an estimated 1 million ship movements everyday , with nearly 240 million customs releases, invoices and bills of lading on the system. TradeLens has almost 100 adopters, including the Port of Montreal and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

When it comes to the reason behind Modern Terminals’ decision to embrace blockchain,  Levesque added that “we shouldn’t walk away from our history [as a port city], and need to go on the offence and being part of a smart city makes sense”.

In fact, TradeLens currently faces criticism for its business model which makes Maersk more profitable, and it is still struggling to lure more carriers on board.Marvin Erdly, head of TradeLens at IBM Blockchain, told CoinDesk in October that “ we do need to get the other carriers on the platform. Without that network, we don’t have a product. That is the reality of the situation”.

Maersk’s rival shipping carriers, including CMA CGM, Cosco Shipping (and subsidiary brand OOCL)and Evergreen Marine have formed a new blockchain consortium in early November to compete with TradeLens.

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