China Merchants Port Group and Alibaba Join Forces for Smart Port

Port operations in China - courtesy of China Merchant Port Group

Published Jun 1, 2020 9:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

The global drive to launch smart port technology is taking another step forward with the announcement of a new strategic cooperation between China Merchants Port Group, Alibaba Group, and Ant Financial Group.

China Merchant Port Group (CMP), which operates 41 ports in China and 25 other countries, is seeking to leverage the combined expertise in ports, technology, and finance to create a new smart port open platform. The collaboration’s goal is to create a unified platform that will allow buyers and sellers of goods to integrate with logistic companies, banks, customs, and other officials to conduct contactless digital export and import transactions.

China Merchant Ports, working with e-commerce company Alibaba and its affiliate Ant Group, plans to create a new port platform based on blockchain technology. They believe this new collaboration will improve trade facilitation, eliminating information barriers in the trade and port logistics business. 

Globally, there has been an increasing drive to digitize all steps of cargo operations and to develop smart ports to improve efficiency along the entire process. Some analysts have estimated that the market for smart port technology might grow to over $2 billion in the next five years.

The concept of the smart port seeks to combine a broad range of advanced technology ranging from artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computer, and blockchain technology to manage and track the movement of cargo. The use of data allows ports and shippers to improve the efficiency of their operations. 

China's port operators are leading players in port automation and technology. Shanghai International Port (Group) - partially owned by CMP - operates the world's biggest fully automated terminal, Shanghai Yangshan Phase IV.