GSBN Partners Ant to Digitise Shipping Processes in Hong Kong’s wCBDC Project

GSBN Partners Ant to Digitise Shipping Processes in Hong Kong’s wCBDC Project

by March 20, 2024

The Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), in partnership with Ant Group, has developed a prototype electronic bill of lading (eBL) to digitise the longstanding paper-based processes in the shipping industry.

Global Shipping Business Network CEO Bertrand Chen

Bertrand Chen

According to GSBN CEO Bertrand Chen, this advancement is part of Hong Kong’s wholesale central bank digital currency (wCBDC) project.

Founded in October 2020, GSBN, a non-profit organisation led by shipping industry stakeholders including Cosco Shipping and OOCL, aims to leverage blockchain technology to bring the global shipping industry into the 21st century.

The introduction of the eBL prototype marks a significant milestone in this endeavour, especially after the Hong Kong Monetary Authority included eBL among the six use cases in its wCBDC sandbox, Project Ensemble.

The prototype is designed to facilitate a more efficient and secure way of handling the bill of lading, a critical document in the shipping industry that authorises the right to take possession of the cargo. Historically, this document has been paper-based and fraught with inefficiencies.

The use of blockchain technology for the eBL aims to provide digital signatures and proof of ownership, with the added benefit of tracking goods, which could address many of the weaknesses inherent in the previous systems. Despite the potential benefits, the digitisation of bills of lading has been slow, with only 2 percent digitised.

The Global Shipping Business Network and Ant Group’s collaboration represents a step towards achieving complete digitisation by 2030.

Under Project Ensemble, eBLs will be issued on Ant Group’s ZAN blockchain, and payments will be made with Hong Kong’s pilot e-HKD. This simplifies the shipping process and opens up new avenues for trade financing through tokenising bills of lading.

According to the company, since issuing its first eBL in January 2023, GSBN has seen significant uptake, with over 120,000 eBLs issued by the end of the year. The organisation aims to increase this number to 200,000 within the year, showcasing a commitment to transforming the shipping industry through digital innovation.

Featured image credit: Edited from Freepik