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CargoSmart details landmark trade finance step

Hong Kong may well have given shipping a glimpse of the future of payments with news from OOCL’s tech company CargoSmart, which revealed today it has completed a proof-of-concept with eTradeConnect, a multi-bank local blockchain consortium facilitated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

The landmark engagement explored ways to improve global trade through enhanced collaboration among shippers, banks, terminal operators, and ocean carriers, with applications to be further developed once the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) is formed.

The GSBN intends to provide a platform for all shipping supply chain participants to work collaboratively to accelerate the digital transformation of the shipping industry. Once the GSBN has been formed, it will be a not-for-profit company that will operate a data exchange platform, with founding shareholders that will include global carriers and terminal operators. It awaits regulatory approval.

CargoSmart and eTradeConnect completed the proof-of-concept facilitated by PwC, with banks and ocean carriers including Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited, The Bank of East Asia Limited, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, COSCO Shipping Lines, and OOCL respectively. The proof-of-concept was designed to validate the hypothesis that linking supply chain data with trade finance transactions can provide enhanced transparency, traceability, and efficiency for member banks and their trade finance customers.

Under current practice, in order to apply for financing services, companies are required to provide banks with shipping documents for validation, which takes significant time. The proof-of-concept connects two blockchain networks to exchange information under a strong data governance model. With the consent of its customers, banks in the eTradeConnect network would be allowed to access relevant historical records provided by ocean carriers and terminals. Banks would be able to shorten the customer validation process, with a better understanding of customers’ backgrounds and with real-time, credible shipment event data. The proposed solution intends to accelerate the document validation and trade finance process.

Andy Tung, co-CEO of OOCL, said “Finding ways to improve the level of efficiency in how the shipping industry exchanges information and documents have always been a monumental challenge. The success in this proof-of-concept is a very positive direction forward to not only tackle this challenge head on, but to take it a step further by broadening the scope of stakeholders such as financial institutions to be a part of this open and transparent digital ecosystem. We certainly look forward to seeing more of these kinds of forward thinking technologies and collaborations being implemented for the collective good of all stakeholders.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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