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Analysis: Maqta Gateway & future of DLT in Shipping

The Port of Antwerp in Belgium has partnered with Maqta Gateway, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports, to conduct a trial run of a global digital system for trading. Having signed a Memorandum of Understanding, the two, working under the project title “Silsal”, aim to create efficiencies within the shipping and logistics industries through the use of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).

Silsal

Announced by Maqta Gateway on 14th October during the GITEX technology week, Silsal aims to use DLT to facilitate trade between the UAE and Belgium. The project seeks to enable full cargo transparency, supposedly through item tracking recorded across a blockchain. Dr Noura Al Dhaheri, the CEO of Maqta Gateway, characterised the use of blockchain technology as bringing “reliability and integrity in the increasingly complex global supply chain” and shared that the Ports were committed to the developing Abu Dhabi into a premier logistics, transport and trade hub in line with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

UAE and Cryptocurrency

On 8th October, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) shared its plan to introduce ICOs as a versatile mechanism for companies to raise capital through the head of its securities regulators. Obaid Saif al-Zaabi shared that the board of the Emirates Securities & Commodities Authority (ESCA) has approved considering ICOs as securities and that regulations would come into force in Q1 2019.

Additionally, the ESCA is working with international advisers and the stock exchanges in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to create a trading platform for such ICO offerings. Over the past decade, low oil prices and a weak stock market have significantly restricted IPOs in the UAE. The use of ICOs to allow companies to raise capital when they might otherwise be constrained from doing so may render the Emirates’ economic vision of prosperity a realisable reality.

Logistics and DLT

On 3rd October, the Port of Valencia in Spain revealed, at the “Smart Ports & Supply Chain Technologies” conference in Rotterdam, that it would be incorporating blockchain technology to covert itself into a “smart port”. Jose Garcia de la Guia, the Head of Information Technologies at Valencia Port Authority, explained that the use of DLT aided by cloud technology was a strategic option to “grant visibility to the whole logistics chain, from end to end”.

The Port of Valencia’s initiative followed from the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Associated British Ports (ABP) and Marine Transport International (MTI) on 19th September. The UK’s leading port operator and the digital logistics firms are seeking to create Europe’s first comprehensive trial programme to examine the use of blockchain technology to improve cross-port connectivity. ABP handled almost 100M tonnes of cargo every year, operating 21 ports across the UK and handling 25% of the country’s buoyant cargo. The companies identified that presently the various stakeholders within the supply chain, for instance the shipper and port operator, use different systems which do not communicate with each other efficiently. The partnership’s aim is to bridge these removed silos together to deliver “trust, security and speed” across the logistics and shipping industry.

View to the future

It was earlier this year that Sentinel Chain raised 14M USD for its ICO. The blockchain project seeks to bring banking to the unbanked by allowing for non-conventional assets, such as livestock, to be used as collateral for financing. This is primarily achieved through RFID tracking.

The proposals discussed above also utilise tracking incorporated with DLT to create structural advantages within the logistics and supply chain industries. Transporting goods is markedly better established than providing loans for cattle, tracking shipped goods is standardised and does not require RFID tracking, and the shipping industry is far larger, with a much realer incentive for generating efficiencies, than what Sentinel Chain set out to achieve.

Given the above and with a view to the future, it is likely that the UK, UAE and Belgium will be able to develop smart ports with significant advantages over conventional systems for all those involved as the partnerships come into full force. If cattle can be successfully tracked, it is only a matter of time before we see widespread DLT-adoption in industries across the board requiring tracking technology.

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