CBSA and Montreal port dip toe into blockchain to tug shipping into digital age

CBSA and Montreal port dip toe into blockchain to tug shipping into digital age
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MONTREAL — The Canada Border Services Agency and the Port of Montreal are signing on for a trial run of a technology that aims to streamline freight shipping using the power of blockchain.

The federal customs agency and the country’s second-biggest port say they’re dipping their toes into a digital database that functions as a “distributed ledger,” sharing and syncing up data from ocean carriers, ports and wholesalers around the world.

But experts say tugging the shipping world into the digital age could bring headwinds, as data sharing depends on co-operation among competitors and security remains an open question.

The new technology was developed by IBM and the Danish shipping container giant Maersk. Manav Gupta, an IBM cloud computing expert says the digital platform, called TradeLens, will replace paper trails with electronic forms and track containers more precisely, saving costs and time.

Since TradeLens was launched in August, more than 90 organizations have come on board, including the ports of Halifax, Singapore and Rotterdam, the container carrier Pacific International Lines and customs authorities in Australia and the Netherlands.

Experts say entrenched industry habits, wariness of collaboration among competitors and ongoing concerns around digital security all present potential barriers.

The Canadian Press

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