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Commonwealth Bank tracing almond supply chain via blockchain

The bank sent nuts from Australia to Germany in a blockchain-based supply chain trial.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has announced completing a global trade experiment, shipping nuts overseas that were tracked via blockchain.

The new blockchain platform, underpinned by distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, and the Internet of Things (IoT), was used to facilitate the trade experiment that saw 17 tonnes of almonds sent from Sunraysia in Victoria, Australia, to Hamburg in Germany.

In partnership with Olam Orchards Australia, Pacific National for rail haulage, Port of Melbourne, stevedore Patrick Terminals, and shipping carrier OOCL Limited, CBA's blockchain platform was used to track the shipment from packer to end delivery, in parallel to existing processes.

Hardware and software support was provided by Australian IoT provider LX Group to ship the almonds from Mildura to the global hub of Hamburg.

"Our blockchain-enabled global trade platform experiment brought to life the idea of a modern global supply chain that is agile, efficient, and transparent," CBA managing director of Industrials and Logistics in Client Coverage Chris Scougall said.

"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."

According to the bank, the platform digitises the operations, documentation, and finance areas of global trade by housing the container information, completion of tasks, and shipping documents.

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CBA said 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," the bank said in a statement Monday.

At the documentation layer, CBA said the blockchain-enabled supply chain allows partners to upload and access documents, such as bill of lading, certificates of origin, and other documents required by customs, which it said "streamlined" the processes.

The announcement follows the bank's head of blockchain Sophie Gilder revealing in December that CBA was expecting to be the first to implement the issuance of a bond on the blockchain.

At the end of 2016, CBA, alongside Wells Fargo and Brighann Cotton, claimed the first interbank trade transaction combining blockchain technology, smart contracts, and IoT.

The transaction involved a shipment of 88 bales of cotton from Texas, USA to Qingdao, China. It involved the letter of credit being executed through a digital smart contract stored on a private distributed ledger, using a GPS device that tracks the geographic location of the goods in transit.

CBA, through its South African business TymeDigital, has also been working on a blockchain solution that is "actually going into market".

"I think the vision we have for that is the first stage is that you can upload documents and share those documents, and then across organisational boundaries, having them validated by third parties and then being able to share those," the bank's executive manager of emerging technology Chris Connor told the CeBIT Australia conference in May, revealing the bank's intention to commercialise the South African distributed ledger solution in Australia.

"Any financial interaction, whether it's travel or an international money transfer or electricity, there's often supporting documentation for that, so if you think about getting a job or swapping money or swapping title of a property -- so with this solution that we've developed, we will be able to share, create, and validate documents across organisational boundaries."

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