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FIATA has released a paperless bill of lading (B/L), which can be accessed with existing technology, for the use of its members.

The electronic B/L, approved by the International Chamber of Commerce, uses blockchain to authenticate documents and provide an audit trail.

FIATA said the solution was designed to “answer the needs of the industry for improved access and exchange of trade documents”.

The document issuer can decide on the format to be shared, either as paper or a PDF, and  FIATA, based on its eB/L data standard, has developed an API service, free to software providers, allowing them to connect with FIATA to create secured paperless B/Ls.

“This solution makes the process transparent,” said FIATA president Ivan Petrov. “It is uniquely controlled in Geneva, with the cooperation of the national forwarder associations.

“It is multimodal, and can be used door-to-door.”

Turgut Erkeskin, SVP at FIATA, explained: “During the pandemic we realised you can’t always interact with authorities, and you need to transfer data in a digital format.

“Digital is important for a number of reasons: it’s green-friendly; you control the data; the data is safe; and you protect ownership of the data.”

He said there were three steps to be taken by the industry: to digitise daily processes; to digitise processes with authorities; and develop digital forwarding platforms.

“We have digitised the B/L and created a worldwide standard. We invite all TMS providers to use our standards and protect the integrity of the industry.”

Seven software providers have already signed up to implement the eB/L, designed by Komgo. It will reduce fraud, can be scanned via a QR code  or directly uploaded as a pdf to FIATA’s verification page.

Souleïma Baddi, CEO of Komgo, said: “Documents are the bedrock of international trade, but they don’t operate like we need them to, and they’re susceptible to fraud and forgery, which happens quite often.

“Trakk is the digital ecosystem of trust for trade documents. I am thrilled to see FIATA joining all companies, financial institutions, warehouses and others using Trakk to protect their documents against fraud.”

WideTech Global said CargoWise customers would be able to request a connection to FIATA’s eB/L from next month.

“FIATA is very excited to embark on this important milestone of its digital journey which paved the way for great opportunities for the future of freight forwarders,” said director general Stéphane Graber.

FIATA last year developed Freight Pay in a bid to reduce banking charges for small payments, as part of its push into digitisation.

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