India is digitalizing 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 specialized services, was built by Portall Infosystems, and they have integrated CargoX’s Platform for Blockchain Document Transfer (BDT).
The Indian Port Community System has seen rapid three-fold growth of users since 2018, when Portall successfully won the tender to modernize the PCS. The main goal was to improve India’s EODB rankings, reduce health risks, and avoid bottlenecks caused during the handling of a hitherto paper-intensive process for export-import (EXIM) cargo at their ports by digitalizing the processes.
The Indian Ports Association (IPA) and the trade bodies in the Federation of Indian Logistics Association (FILA) have emphasized the importance of digitalization in light of the current global pandemic. The Government of India accordingly started evaluating ways to implement electronic bills of lading, electronic delivery orders, certificates of origin, letters of credit, and other trade documentation across all EXIM transactions in the country.
The CargoX Platform for Blockchain Document Transfer (BDT) has been 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 digitalize 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.
The dozen major ports in India handle approximately 60% of the country’s total cargo traffic. In 2019-20 that was close to 705 million tonnes of cargo, and 20,837 vessels that were handled by these ports.
Portall has built the Indian Port Community System 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 Indian Port Community System to bring various niche services with curated service partners, including services such as blockchain document transfer (BDT).
Digital trade documentation
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, the Secretary of the Department of Shipping of Government of India in a letter to Anup Wadhawan, the Secretary of the Department of Commerce.
CargoX and Portall work together to help the Indian market
“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,” said Stefan Kukman, CEO and founder of CargoX.
Manish Jaiswal, President of Portall Infosystems: “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.”
Portall is promoted by JM Baxi Group, one of India’s leading integrated logistics, services, and transportation conglomerate.
Numerous real 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.
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, has provided his insight into testing: “We are strategically backing trade digitalization and we were glad to provide testing and insight for the project of digitalization 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 optimizations.”
Alejandro Gutierrez, the founder of the new Forward Together logistics network, carried out a live shipment with Tech Cargo, Global Transitions, DeeEs Engineers India Project, and Parsteel Shelving Co./Atlas Mega Steel, substituting the manual handling of paperwork with a blockchain-protected bill of lading. He reports on his experience: “The ability to conduct shipment transactions and transfers of ownership without the need for human physical interaction creates a breakthrough case for freight forwarding and logistics, especially when health measures are so important.”
Sea News, June 12