Can blockchain smooth global supply chains?
From finance to art, blockchain enthusiasts have long claimed the technology can transform a range of industries. But, now, lawyer Martyn Huckerby believes the technology could help solve the global supply chain crisis.
Huckerby is head of competition law at Tiang & Partners, a Hong Kong-based law firm. And, recently, he led a team of lawyers as they helped establish the Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), which was launched last year with the aim of increasing digitization in the global logistics industry.
“There are a lot of challenges in the [shipping and logistics industries] at the moment,” he says. “The founding members [of GSBN] have seen an opportunity.
“It is the kind of thing most lawyers would like to have the chance to work on. And it is something that will hopefully help the world,” he adds.
The global supply chain certainly needs assistance. From the outbreak of Covid-19 to the war in Ukraine and China’s recent lockdowns, a string of extraordinary events has upended the system that ensures the smooth movement of goods across the world.
GSBN’s aim is to use blockchain to build a repository of digital data on global trade flows that will help “streamline operations across the entire supply chain”.
To try to achieve this ambition, Huckerby and his team had to tackle a number of legal and regulatory obstacles, not least because some of the founding members are Chinese state-owned companies.
“The supply chain is a very fragmented market with participants who largely rely on paper,” explains Bertrand Chen, chief executive of GSBN. He believes digitizing logistics will speed up trade. “The biggest issue is: how do we share the data?”
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