Korea’s shipping industry could soon be revolutionized by blockchain technology, as early as the end of 2017.

Samsung SDS, the IT subsidiary and technology provider for electronics giant Samsung, will launch a pilot blockchain project for Korea’s shipping logistics industry to track imports, exports and the location of cargo shipments in real-time over a blockchain ledger.

The pilot project signifies yet another major development in bringing blockchain technology solutions beyond testing in a lab to the real world in a country that sees some of the world’s largest shipping ports.

Over a shared ledger, the entire process of a logistics operation is made transparent, right through manufacturing, processing, storage and transportation of goods on a tamper-proof ledger. Such a breakthrough implementation could transform the logistics industry that is commonly plagued by breakages and cargo fraud.

The company is working toward its pilot with the launch of a blockchain consortium for Korea’s shipping logistics companies, relevant government authorities and, state-run research centers, according to The Korea Herald.

All Aboard

The consortium notably includes the Korea Customs Service, Korea’s Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, technology giant IBM Korea and freighter and logistic giant Hyundai Merchant Marine, among other local logistics companies. All of the consortium’s members will participate in the pilot project and collaborate in sharing research on technical and legal concerns about implementing blockchain technology in an industry that is notoriously averse to change.

The report pointedly adds that consortium members plan to expand the pilot project across their logistic processes for ‘all exports and imports by the end of this year.’

Members of Korea’s shipping blockchain consortium from logistics companies and government agencies alike. Image: Samsung SDS
Speaking at the launch of the consortium today, a spokesperson for Korea Customs Service, the government agency tasked to clear or approve all goods entering or leaving Korea, stated:

When this pilot project is established successfully, this will simplify customs clearance of companies and save logistics costs.

While details are scarce about the blockchain that will be put to use, Samsung SDS has developed a B2B enterprise platform this year. As reported by CCN in April, the platform, titled ‘Nexledger’ was geared for industries beyond finance. “We believe blockchain technology will have the greatest impact among businesses that involve a large number of data exchanges,” stated Samsung SDS VP for finance consulting and disributed ledger tech, Song Kwang-woo, at the time of launch.

While an implementation of ‘Nexledger’ is more than likely for the pilot, Samsung SDS is also a member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), a global consortium of over a hundred member companies and institutions across industries looking to develop Ethereum-based solutions.

Kim Gung-tae, chief of Samsung SDS’ smart logistics division stated:

Samsung SDS will provide blockchain technology consulting for consortium members and related organizations. We weill make efforts to enable this consortium to develop the nation’s logistics industry.

A number of global freight operators are already tapping the innovative technology for the shipping industry. In China, a similar effort by the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing form a ‘Blockchain Application Sub-Committee’ where rules and standards for adoption in the logistics industry are already being formed toward the ‘total upgrading and re-direction of the logistics supply-chain industry.’

Big on Blockchain

The introduction of blockchain technology in Korea’s shipping logistics industry joins other notable mainstream blockchain-based efforts taking shape in the country.

Government-backed insurance operator Kyobo Life will trial what is seen as the first implementation of blockchain technology for commercial insurance money payments in Seoul this year. Earlier in March, South Korea’s most populous province of Gyeonggi-do made use of a blockchain-based voting system to register a community vote that saw participation from 9000 residents.

Featured image from Shutterstock.
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