A blockchain-based electronic certificate of origin (eCO) platform was unveiled in Singapore this week by the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC) and Singapore-based cross-border solutions provider vCargo Cloud (VCC).
Developed by VCC, a 50.01 per cent-owned subsidiary of SGX-listed DeClout Ltd., the eCO platform will improve transparency, security and efficiency in authenticating trade documents. It permits instant verification of eCOs and runs on a private blockchain network that prevents fraud, alterations and third-party interference.
The platform represents an improvement in processing COs and other trade-related documents by hosting information of trade transactions on a tamper-proof distributed ledger system, which can be authenticated and accessed by various stakeholders to the platform.
A CO is an international trade document which certifies that the goods in a specific shipment have been wholly obtained, produced, manufactured or processed in the stated country. An initial group of users will move to the new system, with the remaining users transiting in subsequent phases.
VCC’s platform utilizes QR codes, allowing eCOs to be scanned using smart phones and then printed. Allowable prints are restricted to prevent unauthorized duplicates. The system improves efficiency and minimizes the costs of verifying COs, removing a major impediment in the process and a frequent cause of high insurance or trade finance costs.
As the first chamber to implement blockchain-based eCOs, the SICC seeks to provide a trade facilitation system offering the highest security, efficiency and flexibility to its members, trade-related agencies and users of complementary services such as trade financing and insurance.
VCC intends to leverage on the Singapore launch to promote the platform globally, beginning with Asian countries that are substantive manufacturing exporters such as Japan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, using the pay-per-use model.
The launch of the blockchain-based eCO platform comes amidst the Singapore Government’s call for a Self-Certification regime through the ASEAN Single Window, which aims to expedite freight clearance and reduce manual paperwork across all 10 member countries.
This new solution will also strengthen Singapore’s position as a global innovation hub and reinforces the city-state’s strong commitment to driving the digitalisation of trade to improve productivity.
“This new eCO system revolutionizes essentially 19th century processes, providing greater security for all users as well as a clear, unambiguous audit trail through the use of blockchain,” SICC chief executive Victor Mills said.
“The launch of this eCO solution will make VCC the first in the industry to make eCOs immutable,” VCC CEO Desmond Tay said. “These blockchain capabilities will be incorporated across our CamelONE cross-border digital platform, making it even more secure and robust.
“As an industry leader with established partnerships and an extensive regional presence, VCC will strive to deliver continual improvements and innovations in our solutions, and to meet the rising global demand for the digitalisation of trade and logistics processes.”