Commonwealth Bank demonstrated a new blockchain platform underpinned by distributed ledger technology, smart contracts and the internet of things (IoT) to facilitate the trade experiment, tracking the shipment from packer to end delivery in parallel to existing processes.
Managing director of industrials and logistics in client coverage at CBA Chris Scougall said: “Our blockchain-enabled global trade platform experiment brought to life the idea of a modern global supply chain that is agile, efficient and transparent. We believe that blockchain can help our partners reduce the burden of administration on their businesses and enable them to deliver best-in-class services to their customers.”
As part of the experiment, CBA partnered with global agriculture player Olam Orchards Australia Pty Ltd, Pacific National for rail haulage, port landlord Port of Melbourne, stevedore Patrick Terminals and shipping carrier OOCL Limited. Hardware and software support was provided by Australian IoT provider LX Group to ship the almonds from Mildura to the global hub of Hamburg.
CBA’s managing director of global commodities and trade Alex Toone said: “By bringing together partners from across the end to end supply chain and developing a new platform underpinned by emerging technology, blockchain and IoT, we were able to prove a concept to modernise global trade.”
The platform digitises three key areas of global trade – operations, documentation and finance – by housing the container information, completion of tasks and shipping documents, on a purpose-built blockchain.
Partners were able to view and track the location of the shipment as well as view the conditions, such as temperature and humidity inside the container, via four IoT devices. This level of data provided partners in the supply chain with a greater level of transparency and efficiency regarding the location, condition and authentication of the goods being transported.
Supply chain manager at Olam Orchards Australia Pty Ltd Emma Roberts said: “Trade inefficiency can be extremely detrimental to our business. It is vital that as an industry, we look at emerging technology for ways to enhance the supply chain to develop a more transparent and efficient platform. This project has shown that through collaboration from all parts of the supply chain that this can be achieved.”
At the documentation layer, the blockchain-enabled supply chain allows partners to upload and access key documents, such as bill of lading, certificates of origin and other documents required by customs, which streamlined these processes.
Chief financial officer at Pacific National Gerhard Ziems said: “Since the expansion of globalisation, global supply chains have continued to become more complex. This project is unique as it looks to re-imagine how the supply chain communicates and shares information. Simple access to this information provides us with an ability to better utilise our assets and provide customers with better, more efficient services.”
Patrick Terminals’ chief commercial officer Ashley Dinning said: “We are always looking for ways to innovate and drive better results. This project has provided a heightened level of transparency, enabling us to explore further efficiencies for our business, such as improving yard management.”
In 2016, CBA and US-based bank Wells Fargo successfully completed the first global trade transaction via blockchain between two independent banks. This latest project built upon that work, examining how CBA could help its partners optimise working capital and asset utilisation, explore trade finance concepts and potential for in-app payment and invoicing.