Maersk Line, the largest shipping company in the world, is teaming up with tech company IBM to implement blockchain software in their cargo tracking. This joint effort could make it possible to track the activity, such as documents and transactions, of millions of shipping containers around the world, Shipping Watch reports. The partnership was announced in a joint press release.
Blockchain, which was first used for Bitcoin in 2008, logs transactions by linking entries together. According to The New York Times, this method is intended to be difficult to change after it is logged. The idea is that unrelated companies can mutually and securely keep track of their transactions. When the data is updated on one computer, it is simultaneously updated everywhere.
Using this technology in shipping would simplify tracking for buyers, sellers, and customs officials around the world, Engadget reports
The implementation of blockchain technology could reduce expenses in the shipping and logistics sector by billions of dollars. In addition to improving efficiency, it could help connect the global shipping market, said Maersk’s Chief Digital Officer Ibrahim Gocken in the press release.
“The projects we are doing with IBM aim at exploring a disruptive technology such as blockchain to solve real customer problems and create new innovative business models for the entire industry,” he said. “We expect the solutions we are working on will not only reduce the cost of goods for consumers, but also make global trade more accessible to a much larger number of players from both emerging and developed countries.”
Statistics show that ship cargo may hold a higher risk of damage than air cargo. This is because air cargo offers shorter transportation time, and thus a decreased risk of damaging or losing cargo en route.
Despite the potential benefits that this technology could have immediately, Engadget reports that the actual implementation could be five to 10 years away. This is because all of the parties involved in the global shipping of a product will need to sign on to the system.
The shipping world isn’t the only industry exploring the benefits of blockchain. Many experts in the U.S. health care sector believe that blockchain could revolutionize the way medical records are stored and shared as well.