Security

IBM, shipping giant Maersk partner on blockchain to secure international trade

The two companies announced a joint venture to use blockchain, AI, and IoT to create a more secure and efficient process for global trade.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • A new joint company from IBM and Maersk will use blockchain technology to create a digitized global trade platform.
  • The platform could help provide more transparency, simplicity, and security to international trading and shipping.

On Tuesday, IBM and Maersk announced a new joint company to create a more efficient and secure process for conducting global trade that leverages blockchain technology.

The move comes just as hype around blockchain and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin has reached a peak, as noted by our sister site ZDNet. Last year, the two companies announced a partnership to use blockchain technology to manage and track transactions in the shipping supply chain, and they clearly see enough potential in the technology and its applications to launch a new company around it, ZDNet reported.

For those unfamiliar, blockchain is the technology that allows Bitcoin and other digital currencies to be open, anonymous, and secure. It is a master ledger or database that contains metadata about when and how each transaction occurred, which is open to members of a given network and is cryptographically secured to prevent tampering.

SEE: IT leader's guide to the blockchain (Tech Pro Research)

The new global trade platform from IBM and Maersk could provide more transparency and simplicity to the global shipping process, according to a press release. More than $4 trillion worth of goods are shipped each year, and more than 80% of the goods consumers use daily are carried by the ocean shipping industry, the release noted. Reducing barriers within the international supply chain can increase global trade by nearly 15%, according to the World Economic Forum, creating more jobs and improving world economies, the release noted.

Using blockchain in the trade process would allow multiple partners to collaborate in one single shared view of a transaction, which would remain private, confidential, and unchangeable. The companies will also tap artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and analytics technologies to help companies move and track goods digitally across borders.

"This new company marks a milestone in our strategic efforts to drive the digitization of global trade," Vincent Clerc, chief commercial officer at Maersk and future chairman of the board of the new joint venture, said in the release. "The potential from offering a neutral, open digital platform for safe and easy ways of exchanging information is huge, and all players across the supply chain stand to benefit."

The new company's initial plans include commercializing "two core capabilities aimed at digitizing the global supply chain from end-to-end," the release noted: A shipping information pipeline, which will provide end-to-end supply chain visibility and communication for all involved, and paperless trade, which will digitize and automate paperwork filings to reduce the time and costs associated with clearance and cargo movement.

IBM has made a number of ventures into the blockchain space in the past year: In October 2017, the company announced a blockchain banking solution that allows financial institutions to more quickly and cost effectively process payments across international borders.

IBM also recently partnered with part of the London Stock Exchange Group to build a blockchain tool to manage shareholder data, as well as with a number of leading food suppliers to better track contaminated food and prevent it from reaching consumers.

Solutions from the new joint company are expected to hit the market within six months, upon regulatory clearance, the release noted.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/donvictorio

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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