MSC has introduced the electronic bill of lading (eBL) for its customers around the world, following a successful pilot phase, using a solution on an independent blockchain platform WAVE BL.
WAVE BL is a blockchain-based system that uses distributed ledger technology to ensure that all parties involved in a cargo shipment booking can issue, transfer, endorse and manage documents through a secure, decentralised network.
André Simha, global chief digital and information officer at MSC, said: “MSC has chosen WAVE BL because it is in the only solution that mirrors the traditional paper-based process that the shipping and cargo transportation is used to.
“It provides a digital alternative to all the possibilities available with traditional print documents, just much faster and more secure.”
Users can issue all originals, negotiable or non-negotiable, and exchange them via a direct, encrypted, peer-to-peer transmission as well as being able to amend documents.
Research conducted by the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), of which MSC is a founding member, indicates that by achieving just 50% eBL adoption by 2030 could save the industry more than US$4bn per year.
MSC has participated in a number of initiatives led by the DCSA focused on driving standardisation, digitalisation and interoperability in container shipping.
Simha added: “Traditionally, the shipping industry has relied quite heavily on physical paper documents. And among these, the BL is the most important transport document in international trade.
“While there have been attempts to create an eBL solution in the past, we are now in a position to introduce a solution that can pave the way to mass eBL adoption, which will mean significant savings for the shipping industry.”
In addition to the significant cost savings, the eBL offers a wide range of benefits to shippers including eliminating the ‘documentation transportation’ factor from the supply chain.
Shippers can instantly transfer original and negotiable electronic documents across borders enabling faster document transfers, which in turn leads to a shorter payment cycle.
Electronic processes are also far less susceptible to forgery, fraud, loss or human error.
“Eliminating paper from the shipping transaction will make every aspect of commercial container shipping better, faster, more effective, more secure and environmentally friendly,” Simha said.
MSC has worked with WAVE BL on piloting its eBL solution since 2019 and COVID-19 has created an even greater drive toward digitising the BL.
The WAVE BL platform can be used free of charge throughout 2021 for exporters, importers and traders.
Gadi Rushin, WAVE BL’s CEO and co-founder, said: “Our goal from the very start has been to change the way the world trades by digitising document workflows while ensuring the highest legal, security and privacy standards.
“MSC is helping to create a new trade norm that will ultimately affect the rest of the market and save the trade industry billion of dollars.”
MSC is also exploring other eBL platforms to adapt to market demands and, according to Simha, it expects the eBL to become the new norm within a matter of a few years.