Japanese Firms Look to Blockchain to Improve Cross-Border Trade

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Photo credit: MOL

A consortium of Japanese businesses involved in global trade have teamed up to start a demonstration test this month to verify the applicability of blockchain technology as a way to streamline and upgrade cross-border trade operations.

In the demonstration test, participating companies Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., The Japan Research Institute, Mitsui & Co., Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Co. IBM Japan will provide information of real trade transactions using a blockchain-based application, by which a wide variety of documents, including trade agreements and logistics and insurance documents, are digitized, recorded and shared among participants.

By comparing against current operations, the test is intended to verify the effectiveness of blockchain technology for enhancing security and reducing the time required to settle cross-border trade transactions, discrepancies among related documents and administrative costs. Looking to commercialization, the technology will be evaluated for its viability in cross-border trade business operations.

Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. and Japan Research Institute aim to use new information technologies proactively, thereby adapting to an increasingly fast-changing environment, and ultimately become a more competitive and innovative financial group and continuously upgrade the quality of customer service.

Through the application of blockchain technology to the safe-keeping of legal information, SMFG is committed to adding value and offering innovative new financial products and services.

[Read more about blockchain: Why Blockchain Could Revolutionize the Apparel Industry and How it Will Happen]

Mitsui & Co. provides trading services, offering safe and optimized delivery of goods and services desired by customers worldwide. In the demonstration test, the company aims to combine the experience and know-how gained from its long-standing global trading business with the cutting-edge blockchain technology, and achieve better productivity in trade transactions and gain new business opportunities.

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines is a leading global marine transportation operator that provides integrated transportation services, meeting diverse needs for transportation. MOL is expected to offer related expertise to the demonstration test, and aims to become the corporate group that customers think of first when they choose a logistics business partner, by drawing upon ICT technologies to enhance its services.

Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance offers safety and security to resolve various social challenges. The company, through this trade platform, aims to provide services developed using advanced technologies, such as blockchain and IoT.

Seeking to develop various business applications that meet the business sector’s demand for high-level security, IBM participates in Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies hosted by The Linux Foundation. The demonstration test will use Hyperledger Fabric, a blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects.

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