A new Blockchain Bill of Lading initiative from the International Port Community Systems Association (IPCSA) has received a significant ‘vote of confidence’, with Chinese e-commerce and technology group Alibaba signing up to the project through the organizations’ joint Logistics Visibility Task Force.

The IPCSA Blockchain Bill of Lading initiative is being led by IPCSA member, Israel Ports Company, which operates the Israeli Ports Community System (IPCS). IPC CEO Shlomo Breiman said that "the joining of the global giant Alibaba to the Blockchain Bill of Lading initiative led by the IPCS is an important expression of trust in Israel, and we are proud to be among the leaders of this groundbreaking startup in this field.

This year, Israel Ports Company, ran a number of successful pilots using Blockchain technology for transferring electronic Bills of Lading. Some pilots involved the shipment of cargo via ZIM Shipping Company from Israel to Ukraine The exporter was Adama Isreal with shipments to Adama Ukraine through the help of custom agents Damco (Israel) and Rem-trans (Ukraine).

A Bill of Lading was electronically issued by the Shipping Company and transferred to the exporter and then to the importer in Ukraine/Spain. The system provides information as to which party holds the electronic Bill of Lading at any time, together with the logistics status of the cargo.

Alibaba and IPCSA have been working closely together for the past two years. In October 2018, in collaboration with LOGINK (China’s shared logistics information network), they set up a global intelligent logistics network, named the Logistics Visibility Task Force. In its work to develop global smart supply chains, the Task Force has focused on the development of track and trace solutions and the use of ISO standards. Following on from this work, Alibaba has signed up to the IPCSA Blockchain Bill of Lading initiative, effectively making this a second workstream of the Task Force.

The use of Blockchain in transferring an electronic Bill of Lading is expected to provide a more efficient process for all ends of the supply chain, while also cutting costs and further freeing up useable capital.

Breiman further adds: “…We continue our work to advance any technology designated to improve and make efficient the service for the benefit of all the service providers and costumers in the ports, and this includes the field of bills of lading, in which there is a stronger need for efficiency and protection of the costumers."