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Transportation sector takes on blockchain

Updated: Jul 10, 2021

Date: 6 July 2021

Researcher: Yip Wai Fong

While the Covid upheaval continues, a new course for the global practice of transportation has been charted. Lockdowns across the globe have intensified the focus of the logistic industry on sharing information in real-time and the interest in more environmentally- friendly modes of transportation. Logistics and transportation players veer increasingly towards blockchain to find a solution to meet both the current challenges and demands of the post lockdown future. Some of the initiatives that started at the height of blockchain popularity a few years back are now seeing a surge of activities. For some, it is to explore ways for better collaboration within the industry to cut down on cost and time. Others are to ease movement restrictions for businesses to get going again. Yet for others, it is to prepare for a different future. Here is some of the momentum in several biggest blockchain initiatives.

Trade Lens Initiated in 2018 by IBM and A.P. Moller - Maersk to build a digital platform for the shipping industry, to date Trade Lens has tracked 42 million container shipments and digitized 20 million shipping documents on its blockchain platform. From 94 participant organizations in 2018, there are now 300. The network includes ten new entities from China which joined this June - two port groups– Xiamen Port and Zhejiang Seaport – and eight logistic providers. The Royal Malaysian Custom Department has also been part of Trade Lens ecosystem since Oct 2020. Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) Another blockchain shipping consortium born in 2018 and incorporated in 2021 as a non- profit, GSBN has five major shipping giants as shareholders – The COSCO Group, Hapag- Lloyd, Hutchison Ports, SPG Qingdao Port, and Shanghai International Port Group. The COSCO Group announced in June that it is working with Tesla to digitize its shipment information, after the EV maker conducted a pilot using the GSBN platform in early2020. The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI)

Also started in 2018, the consortium of automobile industry players aims to use blockchain to make the industry more efficient and green. Members include BMW, Honda, Ford, Amazon Web Service and insurance companies such as Swiss Re. It has since released standards for the purposes of vehicle identification, EV grid integration and vehicle financing. More recently, MOBI announced that it will release standards to accurately measure the carbon dioxide emissions of car batteries by 2022.

Vaccine Passports

Airlines worldwide have introduced different travel passes for proof of vaccination and/or Covid negative. The most notable is probably the IATA Travel Pass by the International Air Transport Association representing 290 airlines, of which over 50 have conducted a pilot on the pass. Others are such as the Common Pass, by The Commons Project Foundation working with the World Economic Forum, and the AOKPass by the International Chambers of Commerce.

The initiatives above show how blockchain is being deployed to resolve challenges in transportation by all routes – air, land and sea. The different solutions by various groups do raise the question of interoperability, but it is being recognized and efforts are being made to ensure the ecosystems don’t exclude one another.

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