Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) Bullish on Blockchain

Blockchain technology has had a rocky start in the logistics industry, with Danish logistics firm Maersk terminating its blockchain-based supply chain platform last year. However, Hong Kong-based Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) has not given up on blockchain applications in global trade. In fact, the nonprofit consortium sees blockchain as a crucial logistics tool in the long term.

GSBN currently operates one of the world’s largest platforms that can be described as an alternative to Maersk’s TradeLens tool, according to a report by the South China Morning Post. The platform is based on a permissioned blockchain with strong data governance, allowing only authorized parties to contribute and consume shipping-related data.

Since launching its blockchain-based shipping platform in 2021, GSBN has tapped major shipping partners like Cosco, Orient Overseas Container Line, and Hapag-Lloyd. In addition, the organization has also reached partnerships with terminal operators such as Hutchison Ports, SPG Qingdao Port, PSA International, Shanghai International Port Group, and Cosco Shipping Ports. Among the members, only German Hapag-Lloyd and Singaporean PSA International are not based in mainland China or Hong Kong.

Despite past failures of major industry firms like Maersk in implementing similar projects, GSBN CEO Bertrand Chen is confident that blockchain technology has yet to fully catch on and its adoption may take another decade. However, with the world’s largest shipping companies on board, the potential of blockchain in logistics seems promising.

The use of blockchain technology in the logistics industry has been a topic of discussion for several years. It is seen as a tool that can increase transparency and efficiency, as well as reduce fraud and errors. However, the adoption of blockchain has been slow due to concerns about security, scalability, and interoperability.

GSBN’s permissioned blockchain platform addresses some of these concerns. With strong data governance, it allows only authorized parties to access data, reducing the risk of data breaches. In addition, by bringing together major shipping partners and terminal operators, the platform aims to increase efficiency and reduce the time and costs associated with shipping.

While Maersk’s failed blockchain platform may have dampened enthusiasm for blockchain in logistics, GSBN’s platform shows that there is still potential for blockchain in the industry. As the platform gains more traction and more companies adopt blockchain technology, the logistics industry may see a shift towards more transparent and efficient supply chain management.


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GSBN Adopts Blockchain to Share Shipping Data with Financial Insitutiotns

Within 20 minutes, Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) is able to undertake a pilot transaction of unifying the consent collection and sharing of shipping data using a blockchain-powered application, enhancing the speed of transactions.

As an independent and not-for-profit blockchain consortium founded by major global terminal operators and shipping lines, GSBN seeks to enhance trade finance accessibility, especially for SMEs, through its blockchain-enabled data-sharing management application.

Per the announcement:

“By supplying banks with trusted shipping data, the consortium’s solution aims to facilitate approval process and make trade finance more accessible to corporates.”

GSBN’s CEO Bertrand Chen believed that the pilot transaction painted a positive in the trade finance arena and said: 

“This pilot solves a major bottleneck in the industry and is a testament to the efficiency of the network in enabling trusted data sharing.”

He added:

“Trade finance is the lifeblood of global trade, and we hope this milestone can further break down the silos between market participants and financial institutions to benefit all parties while supporting the overall growth of the industry.”

The statement reads that financial institutions can enjoy accessing a basket of trusted and immutable shipping data in a standardised and structured format. In addition, financial institutions can benefit from accurate and complete shipping data to make informed decisions and better manage risk with higher visibility.

By sharing data in a structured format, and the foundation for automated checking which can reduce approval times from days to minutes.

Therefore, this partnership has become an industry-first milestone in the global trade finance sector. 

The pilot transaction was undertaken in partnership with A & W Food Service (Hong Kong) Ltd, Hapag-Lloyd, and Bank of China (Hong Kong) (“BOCHK”).

GSBN sees blockchain technology as a stepping stone toward bridging the gap in the global trade finance space, which is estimated to clock $2.5 trillion by 2025.

James Ho, the Deputy General Manager of the Transaction Banking Department of BOCHK, pointed out:

“BOCHK has been a long-term partner of GSBN, striving to help bridge the trade finance gap. We are very proud to be one of the pioneers completing this pilot transaction and contributing to the global economy by making trade finance more accessible to corporates, especially for SMEs.”

Meanwhile, India’s largest shipping port operator, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) adopted a blockchain-based platform jointly developed by IBM and Maersk to enhance verifiability, Blockchain.News reported. 

Image source: Shutterstock


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New blockchain platform aims to track one third of all shipping containers globally

Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) has launched a new blockchain-based platform that could potentially track one-third of shipping containers across the globe.

The GSBN was founded in October 2020 by eight global national freight maritime cargo companies to build a blockchain platform that digitizes shipping processes such as document issuance, clearance and logistics data.

Members of the Hong-Kong-based non-profit consortium GSBN are said to “account for one in every three containers handled in the world,” and this may soon be verifiable on the blockchain once the platform is fully utilized.

The GSBN announced the launch of the new blockchain platform on Sept. 8 in partnership with Oracle, Microsoft Azure, AntChain and Alibaba Cloud.

“As an independent consortium, it chose a best-of-breed approach to technology to ensure the infrastructure is strong, reliable and highly scalable,” the announcement read.

GSBN noted that the partnerships were sought out for geostrategic purposes such as Oracle’s global trade operating system and Azure’s service reliability in southeast Asia. Ant Group and Alibaba Cloud will be used for deployment in China.

To ensure information control by GSBN, the data will be encrypted before being sent to the blockchain platform which means the members cannot access the data without authorization. The consortium also emphasized that blockchain technology enables it to collaborate with “disparate and often competing market participants.”

In July the GSBN launched its first blockchain-based application in China dubbed “Cargo Release,” which was designed to speed up processing time by removing paper and storing data on the blockchain.

Related: Fruits of the land: Blockchain traceability gives farmers a competitive advantage

Around the same time the GSBN was formed in October last year, two of the world’s largest container carriers in CMA CGM and MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company announced a full integration onto IBM and Maersk’s TradeLens blockchain platform.

The competing platform offers supply-chain digitizing services, and the integration with CMA CGM and MSC brought data from nearly half of the world’s ocean container cargo to the TradeLens network.