IBM's blockchain supply chain solution already struggling

TradeLens, IBM and Maersk's blockchain-powered supply chain "ecosystem" struggling to generate interest among carriers

1Nov

Despite the company's recent investment in the technology, IBM's blockchain efforts have already fallen below expectations, as IBM has struggled to gain interest in one of its main blockchain products, a blockchain-powered supply chain shipping solution.

The blockchain global trade system, TradeLens, was launched in August in partnership with container ship and supply vessel logistics firm Maersk to provide efficiency and security to global trade using the technology.

The system is intended to create a shipping ecosystem for supply chain companies. When the product was launched, Bridget van Kralingen, senior VP of the solutions and blockchain division at IBM, said: "We believe blockchain can play an important role in digitizing global shipping, an area of the global economy that moves four trillion dollars of goods every year. However, success with the technology rests on a single factor – bringing the entire ecosystem together around a common approach that benefits all participants equally.

"Our work with Maersk and other enterprises in the shipping ecosystem has shown that blockchain can be used to form a strong, connected network in which all members gain by sharing important data and that together we can transform a vital part of how global trade is conducted," she added.


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However, just two months later, IBM has admitted that TradeLens has struggled to gain traction with other carriers with just one carrier, Pacific International Lines, signed up. Speaking with CoinDesk, Marvin Erdly, head of TradeLens, commented: "We do need to get the other carriers on the platform. Without that network, we don't have a product. That is the reality of the situation."

The product is not on its way out just yet, as IBM also reported that the Canada Border Services Agency, which processes more than 14,400 trucks and 127,400 courier shipments a day, is trialling TradeLens.

Despite investing in a number of "strategic imperatives" utilizing cutting-edge technology such as blockchain, AI and the cloud, IBM has reported low revenue, last month it was revealed it had lost 12% of its value in 2018 alone. The legacy tech giant is relying on its investments to spur growth so the lack of interest in TradeLens will come as a blow.

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