Mandarins arrive in Singapore ahead of Lunar New Year thanks to landmark blockchain shipment

Ahead of next week’s Chinese New Year, Singapore’s Pacific International Lines (PIL) has used an electronic Bill of Lading (e-BL) built on the IBM Blockchain Platform in a real-time pilot tracking shipment of mandarin oranges from China for the Lunar New Year celebrations.

The trial produced a significant reduction in the administrative process of transferring the title deed from five to seven days to just one second.

“Combining e-BL with blockchain technology promises to help companies reduce their document processing times to almost zero, with an instantaneous digital transfer of the bill of lading for their cargo,” PIL stated in a release.

Israeli carrier ZIM pioneered the use of e-BLs in a pilot scheme late last year.

Hupco, a major importer in Singapore of mandarin oranges for the upcoming Lunar New Year, took part in PIL’s e-BL trial as the consignee of 3,000 cartons of mandarin oranges.

Tay Khiam Back, chairman and CEO of Hupco said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the trial… Our customers can expect their orders in a more timely manner, and, importantly, with freshness assured.”

As a symbol of prosperity, mandarin oranges are a common – and welcome – sight during the Lunar New Year in Asia, with people exchanging them as greeting gifts and eating them during the festive celebrations.

Lisa Teo, executive director of PIL, said the pilot success could help “transform and inject a much-needed boost in efficiency and innovation” into the industry.

Harriet Green, CEO and chairman of IBM Asia Pacific, said: “A blockchain-based trade network will be a game-changer, and we have a great opportunity here with our partner PIL to revolutionise the documentation processes in a way that benefits the entire industry.”

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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