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Maersk and IBM form blockchain company

COPENHAGEN/ARMONK, NY: January 16, 2018: A.P. Møller - Mærsk and IBM are to establish a joint venture to leverage blockchain technology for global trade.

The two companies began developing a blockchain pilot platform in June 2016 based on the Linux Foundation's open source Hyperledger Fabric with a goal of eliminating paper processes throughout the supply chain.

Blockchain is based on a distributed ledger technology that establishes a shared, immutable record of all the transactions that take place within a network and then enables permissioned parties access to trusted data in real time.

Last year the solution was tested by DuPont, Dow Chemical, Tetra Pak, the Port of Houston, Rotterdam Port Community System Portbase, the Customs Administration of the Netherlands and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

MAERSK BAAccording to Maersk chief digital officer Ibrahim Gokcen, providing customers with a blockchain-based service "will not only reduce the cost of goods, but also make global trade more accessible to a much larger number of players from both emerging and developed countries".

With US$4 trillion of goods shipped each year and a facilitation cost estimated at 20 percent of the transportation cost, the World Economic Forum estimates reducing international supply chain barriers would increase global trade by nearly 15 percent.

IBM says that by applying the technology to digitize global trade processes, a "new form of command and consent" is introduced into the flow of information that encourages trading partners to collaborate without compromising details, privacy or confidentiality.

"This new company marks a milestone in our strategic efforts to drive the digitization of global trade. 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," commented Vincent Clerc, chief commercial officer at Maersk and the joint venture's new chairman. "By joining our knowledge of trade with IBM's capabilities in blockchain and enterprise technology, we are confident this new company can make a real difference in shaping the future of global trade."

Maersk and IBM say they will also employ other cloud-based open source technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), IoT and analytics - delivered via IBM Services to help companies move and track goods digitally.

Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain added: "Our joint venture with Maersk means we can now speed adoption of this exciting technology with the millions of organizations who play vital roles in one of the most complex and important networks in the world, the global supply chain. We believe blockchain will now emerge in this market as the leading way companies seize new untapped economic opportunities."

General Motors, Procter and Gamble, Agility Logistics, Singapore Customs, Peruvian Customs, APM Terminals and PSA International have also expressed interest in using the new platform that will be deployed within the next six months.

"Today, a vast amount of resources are wasted due to inefficient and error-prone manual processes," said Michael White, former head of Maersk Line North America and now CEO of the new company. "The pilots confirmed our expectations that, across the [logistics] industry, there is considerable demand for efficiency gains and opportunities coming from streamlining and standardizing information flows using digital solutions."

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