MSC goes global with electronic Bills of Lading

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company has announced the official introduction of electronic bill of lading (eBL) services for its customers on a worldwide basis following a successful pilot phase, incorporating the WAVE BL independent blockchain platform.

WAVE BL uses distributed ledger technology to ensure that all parties involved in a cargo shipment booking can issue, transfer, endorse and manage documents through a secure, decentralised network. Users can issue all originals, negotiable or non-negotiable, and exchange them via direct, encrypted, peer-to-peer transmission on the network.

“MSC has chosen WAVE BL because it is the only solution that mirrors the traditional paper-based process that the shipping and cargo transportation industry is used to,” said André Simha, Global Chief Digital & Information Officer at MSC.

“It provides a digital alternative to all the possibilities available with traditional print documents, just much faster and more secure.”

“Traditionally, the shipping industry has relied quite heavily on physical paper documents. And among these, the BL is the most important transport document in international trade. While there have been attempts to create an eBL solution in the past, we are now in a position to introduce a solution that can pave the way to mass eBL adoption, which will mean significant savings for the shipping industry.”

After running successful pilot projects in select countries since 2019, including India, MSC is now introducing the service to all customers worldwide, with the aim of driving widespread eBL adoption.

Exporters, importers and traders can use the WAVE BL platform free of charge throughout 2021. Users pay for issuing the original documents, which they can do by signing up via MSC’s website.

“Now we’re introducing our eBL solution to our broad customer base to ensure that even more of our customers are able to benefit from the advantages of a digital BL solution. In a matter of a few years, we expect the eBL to become the new norm,” Mr Simha adds.

MSC is a founding member of the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), with André Simha also its Chairman, and has been working within that group to promote the wider adoption of digital trade documentation. DCSA published its own data and process standards for eBLs in late 2020, and the group’s own research indicates that by achieving 50% eBL adoption by 2030 the industry could potentially save more than US$4 billion per year.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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