According to a report in CNET, citing Marie Wieck, head of IBM's blockchain efforts, Wieck said the new partners include shippers, ports and others that are part of the process of getting goods shipped around the globe. IBM is so upbeat about the efforts that Wieck likened blockchain to the impact shipping containers had on the industry. “We believe it has the potential to have the same amount of impact on the process,” Wieck said.
According to the report, among the 94 partners for the IBM and Maersk venture dubbed TradeLens are shippers Pacific International Lines and Hamburg Süd; customs authorities in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia and Peru; and port operators in Philadelphia, Hong Kong, Rotterdam, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Bilbao, Spain, reported CNET. While IBM's TradeLens work is proof-of-concept, it is operating in the real world, capturing 154 million shipping events. And while it has been a closed partnership, Wieck said that should change. “We're anticipating opening up general availability for anybody who wants to join later this year,” Wieck said.
Separately, IBM said Thursday (August 10) it launched a programming interface that will enable other companies’ computer networks to interact with IBM's blockchain. Access to TradeLens isn't free. It is offered to customers as a software service with the revenue being shared among the founding partners of the initiative, noted CNET. “When there is real transparency to all data on the chain, you have less disputes because everybody has seamless visibility,” Wieck said. “We feel very comfortable about the model having value for the different types of participants.”
IBM and Maersk first announced their plans in January. “The big thing that is missing from this industry to digitize and unleash the potential of the technology is really to create a form of utility that brings standards across the entire ecosystem,” said Maersk chief commercial officer Vincent Clerc in an interview with Reuters at the time. Reports emphasized in January that the largest hurdle to the solution would be adoption by global trading partners.