Maersk and IBM announced the blockchain platform in the beginning of the year, aiming to address issues such as inconsistent data; complex peer-to-peer messaging; and inefficient clearance processes.

In order to solve these problems, Tradelens says that it will be able to offer the following:

  • Improved efficiency which equals lower costs;
  • Improved effectiveness as the on-time cargo will be increased;
  • Improved data security, limiting risks;
  • Increased market opportunity.


However since its announcement, only one carrier, Pacific International Lines have joined the project. According to sources, the reason for this is the fact that Maersk’s rivals are not to keen about entering the platform on unequal terms.

In order for this system to work, the shipping giant's competitors would act as 'trust anchors', running blockchain nodes. In addition, shippers of goods are using a number of carriers and freight-forwarders, while the platform suggests the handling of cargo across all of them.

This means that Tradelens needs more carriers. This is the opinion of Marvin Erdly, head of TradeLens at IBM Blockchain, who said that the system needs more carriers, as otherwise there will be no product.

Nevertheless, speaking to ShippingWatch, Maersk's CEO, Søren Skou, noted that he is optimistic about the future of the project. He also added that currently, Tradelens is more advanced than its competitor platform.

Specifically, on November 6, at the first China International Import Expo, nine leading ocean carriers and terminal operators signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to form a consortium to develop the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), an open digital platform based on distributed ledger technology. The participants include ocean carriers CMA CGM, COSCO SHIPPING Lines, Evergreen Marine, OOCL, and Yang Ming.

Alongside with the ocean carriers, leading terminal operators DP World, Hutchison Ports, PSA International Pte Ltd, and Shanghai International Port participated in the project.

Based on blockchain technology, the GSBN platform will offer the following benefits:

  • Open and Extensible: A cooperative network enables members to develop applications and connect to other consortium networks to increase the speed of data integration and improve business performance.
  • Transparency and Instant Validation: Peer-to-peer networking allows data owners to share immutable records to other shipment stakeholders, enabling them to take quick action regarding critical milestones and to keep cargo moving throughout the supply chain.
  • Digital Baseline for Standards: An industry-wide common, trusted, and expansive digital model provides a foundation for highly collaborative initiatives and market intelligence.