Alibaba’s fintech affiliate, Ant Group, has teamed up with Chinese shipping giant COSCO to bring blockchain technology to the shipping industry, the company said on Monday.

Why it matters: Blockchain could streamline the complicated logistics involved in maritime transport, including hurdles from multiple regulators, customs agencies, and harbor authorities.

  • The new deal brings Ant Group, formerly known as Ant Financial, together with the world’s third-largest shipping company to capitalize on the industry that supports up to 90% of global trade.

Details: Ant Group will explore how Ant Blockchain, its proprietary blockchain technology, can transform logistics in the global maritime industry, according to a statement sent to TechNode on Monday.

  • Using blockchain to secure shipping information like container records and logistics certificates, Ant Blockchain “significantly improves transparency while reducing costs,” it said.
  • The company did not give details as to how it will apply the technology to shipping.

Context: Alibaba and its payments affiliate Ant Group hold the most blockchain-related patents worldwide, a study by the China Patent Protection Association found, followed by US-based IBM, which works with Danish APM-Maersk.

  • COSCO became a shareholder of blockchain consortium Global Shipping Business Network in March.
  • Alibaba started using the technology for its cross-border e-commerce business in early 2018.
  • Ant Blockchain is the biggest enterprise-oriented blockchain platform in China. It can process up to 1 billion transactions per day and support 1 billion users, according to Ant Group.
  • Industry giants in China and abroad have used Ant Blockchain for supply chain management and logistics since 2018.
  • Ant Group opened the platform in April to small and medium enterprises, allowing them to build their own applications.
  • The partnership is up against stiff competition. The world’s largest shipping company APM-Maersk and IBM launched in 2018 a blockchain ecosystem for handling logistics.

Correction: an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Alibaba, not Ant Group, partnered with COSCO.

Eliza Gkritsi

Eliza is TechNode's community listening reporter at the Shanghai office. She acts as a link between the editorial team and TechNode Squared members. She previously worked as a reporter for WikiTribune...