Standard Chartered has become the first bank to join TradeLens, the global blockchain shipping platform created by IBM and Danish logistics giant Maersk.

The London-headquartered bank announced its decision on March 10, with global head of trade, Michael Spiegel, stating that digital ecosystems like TradeLens have the potential to promote the sustainability agenda of many stakeholders in international trade.

Millions of supply chain events each week

TradeLens is a global supply chain solution with a focus on containerized freight and logistics, which was first launched by IBM and Maersk back in April 2018. It operates by providing standards-based open APIs that enable supply chain data to be immutably tracked and shared using a permissioned blockchain.

As a participant institution, Standard Chartered will be able to validate the authenticity of shipments in real-time using documents securely exchanged between networked entities. 

Before on-boarding its first bank this week, TradeLens’ 150+ members included international port and terminal operators, ocean carriers and intermodal providers, customs authorities, freight forwarders, logistics firms, government authorities and cargo owners.

To date, the platform is reported to have processed data on over 15 million containers worldwide, capturing millions of supply chain events and tens of thousands of documents each week. In combination with blockchain, TradeLens uses the Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor data for the monitoring of a range of variables, from temperature control to container weight.

In a statement, Aarthi Fernandez — Standard Chartered’s chief operating officer of trade for Singapore and South East Asia, and global head of trade operations — stated:

“The trade ecosystem has complex processes, slow turnaround times, high paper-based manual documentation and limited connectivity between the various parties involved and it remains a major pain point in the centuries-old trade finance industry.”

TradeLens’ expansion

In February, Cointelegraph reported that Indonesia’s customs department had become the 11th government agency to join the TradeLens consortium — joining existing participant customs authorities from Thailand, Azerbaijan, and Canada, among others.

Earlier that month, the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission had granted an antitrust exemption to five U.S.-based members of the TradeLense consortium to share data concerning American supply chain events.