Singapore now aspires that it will speed up the acceptance of electronic documents in the shipping industry across the region, in order to reduce costs for businesses, as well as the risk of fraud from the use of paper documents.

A Bill of Lading is the crucial piece of documentation in the facilitation of international trade as it contains legal and commercial information:

  • Evidence of contract of carriage;
  • Receipt of goods;
  • Title of the goods

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Commenting on the pilot project, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, said that TradeTrust will improve Singapore's attractiveness as a business hub, along with its efficiency of trading and logistics sectors. The Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and other government agencies are now collaborating with the wider industry to carry out trials and provide more details.

MPA Singapore will also participate in the project, by developing an inter-operability framework for electronic trade documents for the maritime and trade industries.

Working together with IMDA, the industry can expect to see different digital ecosystems inter-operate seamlessly with efficient exchange of electronic trade documents. The work will entail the development of a set of governance and legal frameworks, technical standards and inter-operable digital enablers.

However, this is not the first e-bills of lading project in Singapore. Last October, Singaporean container ship operator Pacific International Lines Ltd (PIL) announced collaboration with IBM Singapore (IBM) in another blockchain trial to design and create an electronic bill of lading aimed at enhancing the documentation process in supply chain management.

The trial was conducted successfully in a successful real-time pilot tracking shipment of mandarin oranges from China for the Lunar New Year celebrations.With the use of the e-BL, the trial has experienced a decrease in the administrative process of transferring the title deed from five to seven days to just one second.