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 was TechNode's blockchain and fintech reporter until July 2021, when she moved to CoinDesk to cover crypto in Asia. Get in touch with her via email or Twitter.