The target of 50% of all bills of lading to be electronic within the next decade has been set by the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) in an announcement made last week. TT Club welcomes this commitment.
With some advances towards true digitisation having been made over the last two decades, the last few years have seen a proliferation of options being brought to market, mostly embracing distributed ledger technologies, or Blockchain.
The initiative by DCSA is consistent with the increased trend towards digitisation across the industry to improve efficiency and reduce costs. However, TT Club says that the current pressures felt through the supply chain as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have no doubt spurred the action.
What is more electronic bills of lading could also provide a solution during COVID-19. Namely, the mutual has been providing guidance to operators on the practical issues that they are experiencing with the physical transfer of bills of lading and other documentation due to lockdowns, government restrictions and other COVID-19 related disruptions.
Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club’s Risk Management Director comments:
The current pandemic has inevitably advanced the digital cause. It is entirely reasonable for DCSA to grasp this particular nettle, taking full advantage of the lessons learned over the last two decades. Indeed, the plethora of physical documentation and ‘chops’ for every international transport involving sea carriage remain fertile ground for further efficiencies that may yet dwarf those immediately in view