On 23 March 2018 the European Commission approved the proposed joint venture between Maersk and IBM with the aim of applying the blockchain technology to global trade. The notification of the proposed joint venture was received by the Commission on 28 February 2018, pursuant to Article 4 of the Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings (“Merger Regulation”).

IBM is a multinational corporation active in the development, production, and marketing of a wide variety of information technology solutions, comprising software, systems (such as servers and storage systems), and services (such as business consulting and IT infrastructure services). It is also leader in blockchain open source solutions applied to entrepreneurship.

Maersk is an international group specialized in maritime transport and logistics. It is a global leader in container shipping and terminal services.

The collaboration between the two companies started in 2016, following a common trend already tested by organization such as DuPont, DowChemical, Tetra Pack and others. The new company will offer to the market an open standards digital platform specifically developed for shipping, in order to to ensure more transparent and simple operations.

The maximum cost of the required trade documentation to process and administer different goods is estimated to reach one-fifth of the actual physical transportation costs. According to the World Economic Forum, a reduction of barriers in the global supply chain could increase international commerce by 15%. The application of blockchain technology to global trade will allow to overcome that barriers, ensuring more efficiency.

The new platform, at first, will be divided in two core capabilities:

  • a shipping information pipeline to provide visibility of all process’s levels and ensuring information exchange between parties implicated in every shipment in real time and in a safe way;
  • the paperless trade that will digitize and automate paperwork filings by enabling end-users to securely submit documents, helping to reduce time and cost for clearance and cargo movement. Blockchain-based smart contract will ensure that all required approvals are in place and will help to speed up the approval process and reduce mistakes.