Ant Financial, the fintech arm of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has agreed a deal with COSCO Shipping to explore the deployment of blockchain technologies in the management of supply chain logistics data.
Ant Financial, the operator of Alipay, has been building up its blockchain capabilities over the last two years, launching a new brand called Ant Financial Technology in September 2018 to focus on blockchain and other tech-based products and services.
More recently, the firm launched its OpenChain blockchain platform in April of this year, allowing small and micro enterprises (SMEs) and developers to tap into its proprietary technologies and deploy blockchain-powered smart contracts and decentralised apps (DApps).
This new deal with COSCO is a reflection of a growing interest in the shipping and transport sector for the Chinese company and its e-commerce parent.
Last month, Ant Financial signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China Merchants Port to work together on integrated logistics systems, while Alibaba announced at the end of June that it has joined the International Port Community Systems Association’s (IPCSA) Blockchain Bill of Lading project.
COSCO Shipping has itself been involved in a variety of blockchain initiatives in recent times, and is one of the founding shareholders of the blockchain-based Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), a not-for-profit organisation which aims to create a secure data exchange platform for stakeholders across the supply chain.
In April, COSCO, Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), Tesla and CargoSmart completed a pilot of a new application for management of cargo release processes using blockchain technology which is being developed for use by participants in the GSBN once it is up and running.