After Danish logistics company Maersk shut down its blockchain-based supply chain platform last year, industry builders haven’t abandoned blockchain applications in global commerce. .
Hong Kong-based Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), a non-profit consortium focused on blockchain business applications, is bullish on blockchain as a crucial long-term logistics tool.
According According to a report by the South China Morning Post, GSBN currently operates one of the largest platforms in the world which can be described as an alternative to Maersk’s TradeLens tool. The platform is based on a permissioned blockchain with strong data governance, allowing only authorized parties to contribute and consume shipping related data.
Since launching its blockchain-based shipping platform in 2021, GSBN has tapped major shipping partners like Cosco, Orient Overseas Container Line, and Hapag-Lloyd. The organization has also entered into partnerships with terminal operators such as Hutchison Ports, SPG Qingdao Port, PSA International, Shanghai International Port Group and Cosco Shipping Ports.
Of the members, only Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd and Singapore’s PSA International are not based in mainland China or Hong Kong.
Although big companies in the industry like Maersk have shut down similar projects, GSBN CEO Bertrand Chen is convinced that blockchain has yet to catch on and adoption could take another decade.
“I think for a lot of people it’s clear that this industry has digitized,” Chen said, saying there’s no way global commerce will continue to use “pen and paper” to by 2032. According to the executive, blockchain has the potential to help the industry transform in response to triggers of supply issues like COVID-19. He stated:
“Because of COVID-19, because you have to change the process, I think that’s one of the regular use cases for blockchain (…) It’s probably better than the NFTs of the digital art.NFT of documents for global commerce – this will be the real killer use case.
The executive suggested that China is taking the lead in blockchain logistics because the country is pumping money into the industry. He also acknowledged that many local blockchain solutions have so far been very China-specific.
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“When you throw so much money into an industry because it’s politics, you’re likely to get lucky,” Chen said. He added that China’s investment in blockchain development would benefit GSBN by generating more potential partners for the company.
The GSBN CEO also said the organization has global ambitions and is working to attract more European shipping companies. The nonprofit even hopes to get Maersk on board one day, but admits such a scenario “may be slightly challenging,” Chen noted.
Hong Kong has increasingly become a major Web3 and cryptocurrency hub in recent months, with the local government taking steps to enact clear industry regulations. Despite a blanket ban on crypto in China, some companies linked to the Chinese government have reportedly become more interested in investing in crypto, with state-owned companies like CPIC launching crypto-related funds in early April.
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