The world's first blockchain-based Electronic Certificate of Origin (eCO) platform was unveiled in Singapore yesterday by the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (SICC) and Singapore-based cross-border solutions provider vCargo Cloud Pte (VCC).
Developed by VCC the eCO platform will vastly 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.
SICC and VCC unveiled the platform at a ceremony officiated by Guest-of-Honour Chua Taik Him, Singapore's Senior Advisor of Enterprise, which was attended by over 100 senior Singaporean officials from trade-related agencies and industry leaders.
The platform represents a quantum leap in processing CO's 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 certificate of origin 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 utilises QR codes, allowing eCOs to be scanned using smartphones and then printed. Allowable prints are restricted to prevent unauthorised duplicates.
The system improves efficiency and minimises 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 that offers 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 supposedly reinforces the city-state's commitment to driving the digitalisation of trade to improve productivity.