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An Australian Blockchain Experiment: Tracking Global Almond Shipments

CBA has partnered with five international and Australian companies to ship 17 tonnes of almonds from Melbourne to Hamburg using a new DLT platform built on Ethereum.
Blockchain - An Australian Blockchain Experiment: Tracking Global Almond Shipments

Following a successful 2016 trial of blockchain technology in an interbank open account transaction, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has partnered with five international and Australian companies to ship 17 tonnes of almonds from Melbourne, Australia, to Hamburg, Germany, using a new distributed ledger platform built on the Ethereum blockchain.

The Experiment

Originating in Sunraysia, the shipment made its way to Western Europe in a pioneering experiment that combined a private blockchain, smart contracts and a geotracking Internet of Things (IoT) framework to facilitate end-to-end movement of the almonds. Using the joint solution, the entire process was seamlessly tracked and verified remotely from the point of origin to delivery in real time.

Taking part in the procedure alongside the CBA were Pacific National, Olam Richards Australia Pty Ltd, OOCL Limited, Patrick Terminals and LX Group. The primary purpose of the experiment was to establish a reliable framework for digitization of the three pillars of international commerce, namely documentation, operations/logistics and finance. This was done using a custom blockchain which hosted all information regarding container location, task completion status and shipping documents.

Using the information provided by four IoT devices inside the container, transaction partners could track cargo location in real time and view real-time cargo data, such as temperature and humidity. The information was accessed through the blockchain platform, making it impervious to manipulation.

CBA Managing Director of Industrials and Logistics in Client Coverage Chris Scougall said:

“Our blockchain-enabled global trade platform experiment brought to life the idea of a modern global supply chain that is agile, efficient and transparent. We believe that blockchain can help our partners reduce the burden of administration on their businesses and enable them to deliver best-in-class services to their customers.”

In 2016, the CBA and Wells Fargo conducted the world’s first interbank open account transaction combining the application of blockchain technology, smart contracts and IoT connectivity. The transaction, which took place in partnership with Brighann Cotton involved a cotton shipment from Texas, USA, to Qingdao, China, using a private blockchain and smart contracts enabled with IoT geolocation technology.

Implementing this framework on a larger scale in the future means that international transactions can be carried out with a high level of transparency, with all parties constantly aware of the location, authentication and condition of goods in transit.

In addition to the tracking of goods and added efficiency, the blockchain-enabled supply chain also enables transaction parties to upload and access key documents required by port authorities such as the bill of lading and certificates of origin.

The CBA’s experimental blockchain platform is being built on the Ethereum protocol because of its popularity and customizable functionality. When fully set up, it will take the form of a private blockchain made up of a closed network of trusted entities.