In a big leap towards digitalisation of export-import trade documents in India, Blue Water Lines has become the first to adopt the electronic bill of lading (e-BL) using the blockchain technology platform CargoX. Singapore-based Blue Water Lines is a non-vessel owning common carrier (NVOCC) handled by India’s Abrao Group. NVOCC is a consolidator, which collects small quantities of cargo from customers and aggregates them into full container loads for shipment.
e-BL is a major initiative taken by the government to fast track the digitalisation of the trade documentation process as the current hard copy-based format poses a huge risk to the smooth flow of export-import goods. The Indian Port Association (IPA) an autonomous body attached to the Shipping Ministry is driving the government’s maritime trade digitalisation agenda along with its technology partner Portal Infosystems.
Pandemic as catalyst
The Covid-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for the government and trade to move to a paperless regime for documentation. The Port Community System (PCS 1x), built by Portal Infosystems for IPA, is operational in 19 ports with over 16,000 corporate stakeholders. IPA and Portal have integrated the CargoX blockchain document transfer platform with PCS1x, which can be accessed by all the stakeholders across India.
“With the new normal of social distancing, IPA quickly responded to requests from the trade for a digital solution to documents stuck in transit and enhanced the PCS 1x with features for scanning e-BL and letters of indemnity and brought digital documentation exchange platform CargoX,” said Janardhana Rao, managing director, IPA.
CargoX is a Slovenia (EU)based company that runs a smart BL document transfer platform, using the neutral, public blockchain Ethereum network. A Bill of Lading, the backbone of global trade documentation, is issued by a carrier (shipping line/freight forwarder) to acknowledge receipt of goods, contract of carriage and document of title (ownership) of the goods.