Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), a neutral, non-profit group established to further the digitalisation and standardisation of container shipping in conjunction with its nine carrier members, today announced phase two of its electronic bill of lading (eBL) platform interoperability proof of concept (PoC). 

DCSA will conduct the PoC in conjunction with CargoX, edoxOnline, essDOCS, and WAVE BL. 

The companies will implement DCSA eBL interoperability standards to test eBL interoperability through the full bill of lading lifecycle using data that mirrors a live shipment.

Previously, DCSA has released standards for eBL data formats and interfaces. 

The eBL interoperability PoC leverages DCSA eBL Interoperability Standards 1.0 – Beta 1

Upon completion of the PoC, DCSA eBL Interoperability Standards 1.0 will be officially released and free to download for any platform provider to incorporate into their eBL solutions to ensure interoperability with DCSA standards-based eBLs.

DCSA completed phase one of the PoC in May 2022 with seven actively participating carrier members, ExxonMobil, CargoX, edoxOnline, essDOCS, and WAVE BL. 

Based on phase one participant feedback, standards and PoC design were adjusted for phase two.

Phase two of the eBL program will be completed before the end of 2022 and will ensure full technological interoperability among participating eBL platforms.

In addition, DCSA is working to address the legal framework needed between solution providers to enable cross-platform eBL transfer.

In an interoperable eBL system, shippers and beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) can select a provider based on their service levels and capabilities, while still being able to exchange electronic documents with other parties, including carriers, banks, and others that might use different platforms.

“ExxonMobil believes that digitization enhances both customer experience and efficiency and sees value in adopting and scaling eBL solutions in the near term,” said Georgios Diallas, global strategy & improve manager for the Marine Container Team and ExxonMobil. 

“For an eBL system to be effective, it has to be interoperable across different platforms, and we applaud DCSA and its members for publishing standards to enable interoperability. 

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“We encourage all eBL platform providers to help fast track eBL adoption by embracing DCSA standards.”

Stefan Kukman, CEO at CargoX, said: “Collaborating with DCSA and industry stakeholders to standardize paperless bills of lading and facilitate interoperability is an important part of the work we do.

“eBL will bring countless benefits to the industry including greater sustainability and efficiency. 

“With our platform for blockchain document transfer (BDT), eBLs are smarter and more secure than paper-based alternatives.”

Alejandro Pernias, CEO of Global Share (edoxOnline), said: “The digitalization of international trade processes and documents is our core business. 

“We are committed to working with DCSA to help further the adoption of digital documents in international trade. 

“Having a standardized framework that ensures interoperability will help the industry provide a better customer experience while reducing paper and carbon footprint.”

Alexander Goulandris, co-head of essDOCS, said: “While eBL use has been expanding steadily via contractual solutions, having legal and technical interoperability across solutions would super-charge global adoption and use, enabling major efficiency and cost benefits for all trade stakeholders. 

“This, in turn, should foster further trade collaboration, inclusion and economic growth. 

“We look forward to working with DCSA on the next phase of the Platform Interoperability PoC and supporting these efforts toward driving eBL adoption forward.”

Bhavna Sethi, chief strategy officer for WAVE BL, said: “Our mission is to radically simplify and foster trust in global trade by enabling the instant, secure transfer of eBLs and other trade-related documents.

“Digital standards play an important role in improving eBL viability, increasing trust and accelerating adoption for all stakeholders, which is why we’re happy to support the DCSA eBL PoC. 

“Digitalization of trade documents will reduce the cost of doing business while increasing the efficiency and reliability of global trade.”  

Thomas Bagge, CEO of DCSA, said: “For the global supply chain, fully interoperable eBL is a starting point for digital trade. 

bill of lading partnership

“It will make today’s practices more efficient, reliable and sustainable, but ultimately it will provide a foundation for further digitalisation. 

“Actors in global supply chains want to be able to choose the best platform for their needs. 

“For service providers, it will remove barriers to adoption and create an operational foundation that fosters innovation and collaboration. 

“According to our year-end 2021 research, less than 1.2% of all bills of lading were electronic. 

“We urge all industry stakeholders to get involved and be part of the movement to work towards 100% eBL adoption.”

Read the latest issue of Trade Finance Talks, July 2022

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