Cosco Shipping and Alibaba Latest Efforts Using Blockchain in Shipping

Cosco Shipping, Alibaba and Ant Group sign agreement to develop smart shipping through the use of blockchain technology

Published Jul 7, 2020 3:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

Cosco Shipping Group, the Chinese state-run shipping company, is the latest to join the growing momentum in digitization through the use of blockchain technology. China Ocean Shipping Group signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China’s e-commerce company Alibaba and its affiliate Ant Group, to jointly promote the development of blockchain technology for shipping logistics.

According to the agreement, China Ocean Shipping will work with Ant Group to jointly research and promote the deployment of the strategic connection in shipping, ports, logistics, finance, and other fields using blockchain technology. The two companies will seek to use technology to strengthen cooperation between smart shipping, smart ports, and supply chain finance, and jointly promote the digitization of shipping operations and documents.

Jing Xiandong, chairman of the Ant Group, said that he looks forward to solving the problem of digital assets and multi-party cooperation in the field of logistics through in-depth integration of "logistics + technology" and technology such as blockchain to jointly promote the digital upgrade of global logistics.

The long-sought goal of standardizing and achieving digitization along the shipping chain has gained new focus as the shipping industry responds to the operations challenges created by the coronavirus. Efforts to achieve digitization accelerated with an increasing number of companies and organizations launching or expanding their efforts.

A month ago, Alibaba and Ant Group also entered into an agreement with China Merchant Ports. The companies said that they also planned to create a new port platform based on blockchain technology. Alibaba also recently announced that it will be expanding its work with the International Port Community Systems Association’s (IPCSA) initiatives designed to advance blockchain bill of lading. Alibaba also initiated the IPCSA’s joint Logistics Visibility Task Force. 

The companies believe that blockchain technology can provide key infrastructure for restructuring the multi-party collaborative system and realizing the digitization of the entire shipping process. The goal is to create a transfer platform through blockchain technology, building a decentralized multi-party collaboration system, and that allows digital assets to circulate through the entire chain to realize the development of multi-party collaboration.

Xu Lirong, Chairman of China COSCO Shipping Group, expressed the hope that with the help of blockchain, Internet of Things, 5G and other technologies, they will continue to deepen cooperation with all parties and promote the seamless integration of cargo flow, capital flow and information flow in the upstream and downstream of the shipping industry chain.