Consortium in Singapore completes paperless cross-border trade pilot

Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has partnered with a group of companies including ExxonMobil, VLK and Bunkerchain to complete the first paperless cross-border trade on its TradeTrust platform using electronic Bills of Lading (eBL).

The trade involved the use of an ETR (Electronic Transferable Record), functionally equivalent to a paper Bill of Lading (BL), on the blockchain-powered TradeTrust platform, built to harmonise the legal recognition of digital documentations between various jurisdictions.

The ETR cross-border trade involved ExxonMobil Asia Pacific as the shipper, Bunkerchain as the TradeTrust-enabled digital platform provider and VLK as the vessel owner. Bunkerchain provided its digital system for support of logistics documentation processes for the cross-border liquid chemical trade involving multiple parties, such as a surveyor and custom broker.

TradeTrust was used to enable the digitalisation of the issuance, ownership title transfer and surrender of the ETR as an electronic Bill of Lading (eBL) between the different stakeholders across different systems.

The overall process started with ExxonMobil shipping liquid chemicals from Singapore to Thailand, with VLK issuing an eBL using Bunkerchain. Marine Vessel Pass, a joint project between S&P Global Market Intelligence and Bunkerchain, created a ‘Digital Passports for Ships’ on the eBL to verify the digital identity used in the signing, which was tied to the vessel’s IMO number. The eBL was subsequently surrendered via the TradeTrust system.

“Since 2019, Singapore has looked to reshape, reimagine, and redefine the way the world trades. International trade ecosystem is heavily reliant on physical paper documents and signatures for validation,” said Loh Sin Yong, Director, TradeTrust, IMDA.

“This live transaction for consignment of liquid chemical from Singapore to Thailand leverages on the TradeTrust framework to create an eBL that uses UNCITRAL’s MLETR (Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records) compliant statutory law framework.”

“More importantly, we are excited to have demonstrated that the industry can potentially use eBL even if there was no basis of a contractual legal framework. We believe this will illuminate wider adoption of eBL in cross border trade.”

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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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