IBM, Maersk form blockchain joint venture to focus on global trade

IBM and Maersk have been collaborating on creating a blockchain platform for the global supply chain. Now the duo will create a new company to commercialize the platform broadly.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

IBM and Maersk said they will form a joint venture focused on using blockchain technology to create a global trade platform.

The two companies announced a partnership last year focused on digitizing the supply chain via a blockchain platform. Now Maersk and IBM see enough potential to launch a separate company. Maersk and IBM started to collaborate in June 2016.

According to IBM and Maersk the mandate for the new company will be to "offer a jointly developed global trade digitization platform built on open standards and designed for use by the entire global shipping ecosystem."

Blockchain technology revolves around a distributed ledger that keeps a record of all transactions placed within a network. Each part of the network has established permissions and data is secure.

The move to create a joint venture focused on blockchain comes as hype about the technology--and the currencies such as Bitcoin--is beginning to peak. See: SEC suspends trading of Blockchain firm with 'unexplained' market activity | Korean tech minister seeks to quell blockchain fears amid bitcoin crackdown | Kodak announces the KodakCoin blockchain cryptocurrency

For IBM and Maersk, the joint venture could capitalize on a global shipping structure that can be made more efficient. IBM and Maersk will use Big Blue's cloud, artificial intelligence, analytics and Internet of things tools as well as services. Maersk brings trade expertise.

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Vincent Clerc, chief commercial officer at Maersk and chairman of the joint venture, said the new company marks a milestone in the efforts to digitize global trade.

Via the joint venture, IBM and Maersk are hoping to commercialize their block-chain platform, which has been piloted by DuPont, Dow Chemical, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other. General Motors and Procter and Gamble are interested in the blockchain platform.

A few key points about the joint venture include:

  • Michael J. White, former president of Maersk Line in North America, will be CEO of the new company.
  • The company plans to commercialize a shipping information pipeline that will provide supply chain visibility in real time.
  • Another commercial opportunity for the joint venture will revolve around Paperless Trade, a product that aims to digitize and automate paperwork filings across companies and organization boundaries. Smart contract capabilities will also be based on blockchain.
  • The new company will be based in the New York area with products from the joint venture available within six months.


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