India is digitalising its bills of lading and other trade documentation workflows as one of the last missing elements within the country’s electronic Port Community System (PCS).
The PCS, offering the P-CaSo curated marketplace of specialised services, was built by Portall Infosystems, a part of JM Baxi Group- India’s leading integrated logistics, services, and transportation conglomerate, and have integrated Slovenia-based CargoX platform for blockchain document transfer.
Digital trade documentation
The Indian Ports Association and the trade bodies in the Federation of Indian Logistics Association have emphasised the importance of digitalisation in light of the current global pandemic. Responding to these calls, the Government of India accordingly started evaluating ways to implement electronic bills of lading (eBLs), electronic delivery orders (EDO), certificates of origin (CO), letters of credit, and other trade documentation across all export-import (EXIM) transactions in India.
Post-lockdown, cargo stoppages due to the inability of courier agencies, requirements of social distancing, the requirement of delivering of physical format-based trade documentation, and the sheer time added in person-to-person contact while handling paper documents, create a high level of risk with the contagious nature of COVID-19, result in considerable delays in cargo processing, stated Gopal Krishna, then Secretary of the Ministry of Shipping, in a letter to Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Portall has built the Indian PCS from the ground up within a record time of 6 months, with complete implementation in 13 major Indian ports – it is currently operational in 19 ports with 16,000+ corporate stakeholders. The B2B marketplace (P-CaSo) for the ecosystem is integrated into the PCS to bring various niche services with curated service partners, including services such as blockchain document transfer.
The Indian PCS has seen the rapid three-fold growth of users since 2018, when Portall successfully won the tender to modernise it. The main goal was to improve India’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) rankings, reduce health risks, and avoid bottlenecks caused during the handling of a hitherto paper-intensive process for export-import cargo at their ports by digitalising the processes.
The CargoX platform for blockchain document transfer was successfully tested by Portall Infosystems and India’s global shipping stakeholders to transfer electronic bills of lading. CargoX and Portall Infosystems have entered into a partnership to digitalise the processing of bills of lading and the transfer of trade documents. The CargoX Platform can be accessed by stakeholders through the P-CaSo services marketplace, integrated into PCS 1x.
Portall and CargoX work together to help the Indian market
Portall comes with a mission to transform the Indian logistics landscape with simple to use, technology-rich, multitenancy B2B and B2C portals for managing various aspects of the global supply chain.
Manish Jaiswal, President of Portall Infosystems said, “We saw that there was a good fit between the companies. Both Portall and CargoX are fairly young, but the teams have domain-rich knowledge and bring expertise from various facets of the industry. This way we are able to understand the needs of the customers well and provide for the best-suited solution. As a service partner, CargoX stands for values that we stand for – transparency and innovation, sophisticated yet user-friendly solutions which save cost and time without compromising on the quality of the solution.”
CargoX offers smart bill of lading (B/L) solution based on the public Ethereum blockchain. It replaces old-school paper B/L documents and drives fast, safe, reliable and cost-effective processing of bills of lading anywhere in the world. The company plans to introduce a number of other products for the supply chain industry in the future.
Stefan Kukman, CEO and founder of CargoX said, “We have developed the CargoX Platform for contactless, distributed online teamwork – and we are glad we did. In these times of multiple risks to our common society, we are proud to help shipping companies, who represent the backbone of the economy, resolve supply chain document sending issues and enables them to meet delivery deadlines everywhere in the world, in a secure and efficient manner, while also lowering the document transfer cost.”
Tests and simulations performed by leading global companies
To comply with the Ministry of Shipping’s initiative, Portall and CargoX engaged their partners to test the CargoX Platform for EXIM with Indian companies. Proof-of-concept tests and simulations were run with various use-case scenarios, including breakbulk and container shipments, export, and import from and into India.
Providing insights into the testing, Leif Arne Strømmen, Vice President of Innovation at G2 Ocean, the operator of the largest breakbulk carrier fleet in the world with 130 open hatch vessels, “We are strategically backing trade digitalisation and we were glad to provide testing and insight for the project of digitalisation of bills of lading in India with our partner CargoX. Because of the lockdown situation, we were unable to execute regular live shipments within the given narrow time frame. Therefore we successfully simulated shipments and processing based on real historic B/Ls, to provide complete insight into the future workflows and optimisations.”