Shipping industry to go paperless with blockchain bill of landing

  • The Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), headquartered in Hong Kong, has recently unveiled its electronic bill of landing (eBL) prototype product in collaboration with fintech firm Ant Group.
  • GSBN has completed the development of a prototype eBL, which will be integrated into Hong Kong’s wholesale central bank digital currency (wCBDC) project, as revealed by CEO Bertrand Chen.
  • With the successful integration of the eBL prototype into the wCBDC project, facilitated by Ant Group’s blockchain technology, GSBN demonstrates the potential for digitisation in the shipping industry.

GSBN’s collaboration with Ant Group on the eBL prototype, integrated into Hong Kong’s wCBDC project, showcases the potential for digitisation in the shipping industry. By leveraging blockchain, the industry stands to gain enhanced efficiency, transparency, and security throughout supply chain processes, ultimately streamlining transactions and reducing administrative burdens for stakeholders. Moreover, blockchain’s immutable ledger ensures data integrity and trust, fostering greater collaboration and accountability among industry participants. For consumers, this means faster delivery times and improved tracking, leading to better communication and fewer uncertainties.

–Sylvia Shen, BTW Reporter

Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), based in Hong Kong, recently launched its first prototype product in partnership with the fintech firm Ant Group. The goal of the GSBN is to explore how blockchain technology can transform a longstanding paper-based process in the shipping industry.

GSBN completes eBL prototype

The Global Shipping Business Network, a non-profit consortium with shareholders including major players in the shipping industry such as Cosco Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd, and OOCL, has finalised a prototype electronic bill of lading (eBL) for incorporation into Hong Kong’s wholesale central bank digital currency (wCBDC) project, according to CEO Bertrand Chen.

The eBL prototype is currently integrated into the wCBDC project, as stated by ZAN from Ant Group, the blockchain technology utilised by GSBN. GSBN initiated this partnership with Ant, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding back in November.

In a video demonstration of a buyer seeking financing, the seller can transfer the eBL to a third party, like a bank, for assessment and token creation, enabling investors to profit from the buyer’s repayment.

Also read: FedEx launches e-commerce platform to compete with Amazon

Shipping industry needs digitisation

The shipping industry, historically reliant on paper-based processes, faces a critical need for digitisation, particularly concerning the bill of lading—a document essential for cargo ownership and payment. Blockchain presents a solution to deficiencies found in previous systems, offering capabilities such as digital signatures and proof of ownership, along with built-in tracking of goods.

Also read: Digital bank Onyx Private shuts down retail services, shifts focus to B2B

Currently, only 2% of bills of lading are digitised, as noted by Chen. Although global shipping leaders aim for full digitisation by 2030, progress has been sluggish due to complex challenges, including varying legal frameworks, according to Chen.

The company’s volume exceeded 120,000 by the end of the year after releasing its first eBL in January 2023. Chen said, “GSBN hopes to grow that to 200,000 this year.”


Sylvia Shen

Sylvia Shen is an editorial assistant at Blue Tech Wave specialising in Fintech and Blockchain. She graduated from the University of California, Davis. Send tips to

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