india © Alexey Novikov
© Alexey Novikov

India is set to allow shipping bills of lading (B/Ls) to be filed over a blockchain platform, as part of the country’s efforts to digitise its maritime supply chains.

These efforts have become increasingly urgent as the paper-based administrative processes that accompany container shipping have been severely hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, and the consequent lockdowns and social distancing, leading to major port congestion.

In response, India’s ministry of shipping gave the go-ahead to run trial shipments with B/Ls submitted on CargoX’s blockchain technology through the country’s Port Community System, developed by Portall Infosystems.

And the partners announced today that the CargoX Platform for Blockchain Document Transfer (BDT) had been successful and India’s global shipping stakeholders could transfer electronic bills of lading.

As a result, CargoX and Portall have started a partnership to digitise the processing of bills of lading and transfer of trade documents through the P-CaSo services marketplace, integrated into PCS 1x.

As part of the trial, Alejandro Gutierrez, founder of the new Forward Together logistics network, carried out a live shipment with Tech Cargo, Global Transitions, DeeEs Engineers India Project, and Parsteel Shelving Co/Atlas Mega Steel, substituting the manual handling of paperwork with a blockchain-protected bill of lading.

“The ability to conduct shipment transactions and transfers of ownership without the need for human physical interaction creates a breakthrough case for freight forwarding and logistics, especially when health measures are so important,” he said.

Leif Arne Strømmen, vice president of innovation at breakbulk carrier G2 Ocean, added: “We are backing trade digitalisation and were glad to provide testing and insight for the project in India with our partner, CargoX.

“Because of the lockdown situation, we were unable to execute regular live shipments within the given narrow time frame. Therefore, we successfully simulated shipments and processing based on real historic B/Ls, to provide complete insight into the future workflows and optimisations.”

Stefan Kukman, chief executive and founder of CargoX, said: “In these times of multiple risks to our common society, we are proud to help shipping companies, which represent the backbone of the economy, resolve supply chain document-sending issues and enable them to meet delivery deadlines everywhere in the world in a secure and efficient manner, while also lowering the document transfer cost.”

Portall president Manish Jaiswal added: “We saw that there was a good fit between the companies. Both Portall and CargoX are fairly young, but the teams have domain-rich knowledge and bring expertise from various facets of the industry.

“This way we are able to understand the needs of the customers well and provide the best-suited solution.”

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  • Ago Dermenjian

    June 11, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    The challenge that needs to be addressed in India is not electronic bills of lading…it’s the archaic No Objection Certificate (NOC). This is a system that requires a shipper/exporter who is facing a breach of contract or default, to have to get permission, in the form of an NOC, from the defaulting party (the importer). It is stupefying that this regulation remains in place in the 21st century and that Indian officials seem totally indifferent to addressing this matter. The NOC needs to be eradicated and removed from being used as an offensive weapon by defaulters.