Maersk and IBM on Tuesday said they have decided to withdraw its TradeLens offerings and discontinue the platform.

Maersk announced that it will discontinue the blockchain TradeLens platform, that aimed to limit the shipping industry’s costly paper trail.

The two entities had announced a blockchain joint venture back in January 2018, to utilise blockchain in the movement and shipment of goods around the world.

Shipping – © Shutterstock – EvrenKalinbacak

Blockchain platform

At the time, the the two firms said this type of platform was needed, because keeping track of shipments was being hampered by antiquated, costly and inefficient processes.

An example of this was the manual movement of paper documentation in order to clear goods for export or import, customs approval and payments.

The IBM and Maersk joint venture sought to provide more efficient and secure methods for conducting global trade using blockchain technology.

It aimed to “jointly developed global trade digitisation platform built on open standards.”

That included using blockchain to help shipping companies and traders move and track their goods across international borders digitally, with greater transparency, security, efficiency and simplicity.

Blockchain would provide a trusted view of supply chain transactions and could even eliminate the need for pen and paper, and replace it with a digital process for documents.

It seemed that Blockchain was the perfect solution.

In the early days blockchain was mostly associated with banks and financial systems, as it is a digital technology for recording and verifying transactions.

It was also mostly associated as the global online ledger that underpins bitcoin.

This led IBM to predict that most banks will adopt blockchain, but blockchain is also suited to other industries, notably the shipping industry which operates large networks of disparate partners.

Not commercial viable

And it seems that both Maersk and IBM did successfully created the TradeLens platform.

But on Monday Maersk said that the TradeLens team is taking action to withdraw the offerings and discontinue the platform, and the intent is that the platform “will go offline by end of quarter one, 2023.”

During this process all parties involved will ensure that customers are attended to without disruptions to their businesses, the shipping giant added.

“TradeLens was founded on the bold vision to make a leap in global supply chain digitisation as an open and neutral industry platform,” noted Rotem Hershko, head of business platforms at A.P. Moller – Maersk.

“Unfortunately, while we successfully developed a viable platform, the need for full global industry collaboration has not been achieved,” said Hershko. “As a result, TradeLens has not reached the level of commercial viability necessary to continue work and meet the financial expectations as an independent business.”

“We are deeply grateful for the relentless efforts of our committed industry members and many tech talents, who together have worked diligently to advance the digitalisation of the industry through the TradeLens platform,” said Hershko.

“We will leverage the work of TradeLens as a steppingstone to further push our digitisation agenda and look forward to harnessing the energy and ability of our technology talent in new ways,” Hershko concluded.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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