OneConnect Financial Technology, an associate of the Ping An Group, and China Merchants Group have launched a logistics and trade facilitation blockchain platform project linking the ports of Shekou in Shenzhen and Shunde in Foshan.
The "linked port" technology ecosystem for the two ports is the first step to ultimately improve cross-border trade efficiency across China’s Greater Bay Area, which covers Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, according to a statement from OneConnect. With increasing container throughput and cross-border trade, it is vital for the Greater Bay Area to integrate its 37 ports to remain competitive.
The technology project is part of the new infrastructure plan promoted by the Shenzhen municipal government and other governmental departments.
In a promising pilot, 200 twenty-foot equivalents (TEUs) of real goods were imported and exported between the Shekou and Shunde ports. The technology linking the two ports reduced import and export-related logistics processes from five to seven days to just two days. Transportation and customs declaration costs for enterprises also fell by 30%.
The integrated technology linking trade participants operating in the Greater Bay Area will improve communication, streamline port clearance processes and enhance the overall competitiveness of ports within the region.
The linked port project will use advanced technologies, including blockchain, big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, to help create smart ports, and enable smart regulation, smart trade and smart finance processes.
OneConnect built the core port logistics data standards and the blockchain platform. Using these technologies, trade participants will be able to connect with customs officials efficiently through a shared blockchain network across the Greater Bay Area, according to the statement. Trade participants will be able to swiftly identify the authenticity of any trade transaction through the validation of cross-border trade-related information registered on the blockchain.
The project focuses on four areas: smart ports, smart regulation, smart trade and smart finance. China Merchants Group's port in Western Shenzhen will act as a key smart port that allows sharing of resources through blockchain technology, promoting efficient logistics and creating a digital ecosystem for port shipping in the Greater Bay Area.
Smart regulation will improve cooperation between custom officials and enterprises with a collaborative customs clearance process. Two separate customs declaration procedures will be simplified into one, with cross-validation capabilities made possible by blockchain technology and real-time information capture through Internet of Things (IoT)-based processes.
Trading enterprises will also benefit from smart trade solutions for convenient customs clearance, efficient logistics and digital finance, which will create a trust-based, convenient, efficient, and traceable trading environment. Digital financial services such as export tax rebate financing and cross-border e-commerce financing will enhance integrated trade finance services in the Greater Bay Area and build up core competitiveness.
As data on the blockchain cannot be tampered with and allows for automatic cross-verification with the data being encrypted, OneConnect will ensure the logistics data can be traceable and impossible to change, the statement says. The linked port will greatly enhance authentication processes for logistics and transportation.
The platform will also issue real-time warnings to assist the customs departments in managing any sensitive data regarding ships, containers and cargo.