MSC rolls out new electronic Bill of Lading

MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company is introducing an electronic bill of lading (eBL) for its customers, following a successful pilot phase.

The company is using a solution on an independent blockchain platform WAVE BL. The system uses distributed ledger technology to ensure that all parties involved in a cargo shipment booking can issue, transfer, endorse and manage documents through a secure, decentralised network.

“The eBL enables shippers and other key supply chain stakeholders to receive and transmit the bill of lading document electronically, without any change or disruption to day-to-day business operations,” MSC said.

Users can issue all originals, negotiable or non-negotiable, and exchange them via a direct, encrypted, peer-to-peer transmission. It’s also possible for users to amend documents.

“MSC has chosen WAVE BL because it is the only solution that mirrors the traditional paper-based process that the shipping and cargo transportation industry is used to,” says André Simha, Global Chief Digital & Information Officer at MSC.

“It provides a digital alternative to all the possibilities available with traditional print documents, just much faster and more secure.”

WAVE BL’s communication protocol is approved by the International Group of Protection & Indemnity Clubs, and meets the highest industry standards for security and privacy, according to MSC.

The container shipping major believes introducing an eBL solution is a critical step in the overall digitalisation of the industry.

“Traditionally, the shipping industry has relied quite heavily on physical paper documents. And among these, the BL is the most important transport document in international trade,” states Simha.

“While there have been attempts to create an eBL solution in the past, we are now in a position to introduce a solution that can pave the way
to mass eBL adoption, which will mean significant savings for the shipping industry.”

MSC has worked with WAVE BL on piloting its eBL solution since 2019. However, COVID-19 has created an even greater drive towards digitising the BL.

“The global pandemic has restricted human and transport mobility in
many places,”
Simha explains.

“Countless containers have been stuck at various ports, terminals, depots and warehouses around the world because the receiver doesn’t have the original paper BL required torelease these goods at their destination.”

Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA), of which MSC is a founding member, estimates that by achieving just 50% eBL adoption by 2030, the industry could potentially save more than $ 4 billion per year.