MOL joins IBM for blockchain cross-border trade operations test


Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines has teamed up with IBM Japan and other firms for a demonstration test to see how effectively blockchain technology can be implemented in cross-border trade operations.

Apart from MOL, a total of five firms are participating in this test, namely Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, The Japan Research Institute, Limited, Mitsui & Co, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company and IBM Japan, according to a statement by MOL.

In the test, which started in December 2017, six companies will input information of real trade transactions using a blockchain-based application with a wide variety of documents, including trade agreements and logistics/insurance documents that are digitised, recorded and shared among participants.

The test intends to confirm the usability of blockchain technology in enhancing security and reducing the time required to settle cross-border trade transactions, discrepancies among related documents and administrative costs.

In particular, MOL is expected to offer related expertise during the demonstration test, while Mitsui & Co aims to combine the experience and knowledge gained from its global trading business with blockchain technology to achieve better productivity in trade transactions.

IBM is a participant in Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies hosted by The Linux Foundation. The demonstration test will use Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects. 

Meanwhile, MSIC aims to provide services developed using advanced technologies, such as blockchain and the internet of things.

SMFG, SMBC and JRI aim to use new information technologies to become more competitive and innovative in the financial space and to improve customer service. 

In August, MOL announced that it was participating in a 14-member consortium to develop a trade data sharing platform to streamline procedures and reduce costs.

“Current trading practices rely heavily on bills of lading and other documents. This creates burdens such as additional time to complete procedures and requires additional labour and costs,” MOL said at the time in a statement.

It added that the use of blockchain technology would make trade-related office procedures swifter and more efficient by facilitating smoother information flow through corporations and across business categories.