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INDUSTRYINSIGHT more news at www.heavyliftpfi.com


Blockchain: Smart contracts set to spur productivity


A major business development opportunity, a huge challenge, or potentially a threat to the forwarders in the supply chain? Blockchain, the adoption of which poses numerous challenges, has the potential to revolutionise the ways in which contracts are processed. Phil Hastings reports.


are currently attempting to assess the likely impact of blockchain technology on their operations. In reality, the answer to the ‘opportunity’ or ‘challenge’ question is probably best summed up by an executive with one leading global logistics group when he was asked to comment on the implications of blockchain for third-party logistics providers in general. “It is a bit of both,” suggested Biju Kewalram, chief digital officer at Agility Logistics,


A www.heavyliftpfi.com


number of project forwarders – and other logistics companies –


which earlier this year


announced it was collaborating with IT giant IBM and container shipping line Maersk to run blockchain pilots via the Hyperledger technology developed by the former.


Positive opportunities Publicly, logistics providers are predictably keener to talk about the perceived positive opportunities that could open up with the implementation of blockchain technology, rather than any potential downside. However, a report on ‘Blockchain in Freight Transportation’, published late


last year by global financial services firm Morgan Stanley, included the suggestion that “blockchain platforms act as a clearing house and remove the need for logistics providers to act as intermediaries”. Some of the specific


Blockchain is a bit of both ‘opportunity’ and


‘challenge’. – Biju Kewalram, Agility Logistics


implications of blockchain for project forwarders were outlined to HLPFI by Ken Lyon, managing director of UK-based supply chain advisory firm Virtual Partners, and advisory board member for logistics industry research and analysis provider Transport Intelligence. He pointed to the possible impact of a related technology called Ethereum that, in the words of its Swiss promoter, is “a decentralised platform that runs smart contracts; applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference”. Lyon explained: “A smart contract is basically a process which has a series of rules embedded in it that are built on blockchain technology.” These


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