New Danish company Blockshipping, which has several former Maersk employees on its executive team, is looking to help carriers fill their empty containers.
This will be done with a new platform aimed at building trust between shipping companies and inciting them to share container information with each other.
The company relies on the much-discussed blockchain technology, and the initiative's creators include CEO Peter Ludvigsen, who has previously worked at Maersk Line.
"The shipping companies have for years shared vessel and terminal capacity. We now think it's time that they start sharing containers as well," he says in an interview with ShippingWatch.
Briefly put, the idea was to create a register of all shipping containers around the world, tracing their locations, operators and financing. This would enable liner companies to see where there are empty containers and spot opportunities to fill these containers.
If the company is able to have the carriers work together, the container sector could save close to USD 6 billion annually.
The shipping companies have for years shared vessel and terminal capacity. We now think it's time that they start sharing containers as well"
In addition to using blockchain technology for the platform itself, the technology is also used when performing transactions between users. This will be done through a private cryptocurrency tied to the US dollar, issued by Blockshipping.
The company is also partially financed by a so-called Initial Coin Offering (ICO), which means that Blockshipping issues another, public cryptocurrency that gives buyers a percentage of the transaction earnings from the platform.
Below, CEO and founder Ludvigsen explains how he envisions that Blockshipping can make life easier for the shipping companies.
In talks with Top 10 companies
Peter Ludvigsen, why is there a need for your platform?
"The entire purpose is to avoid transporting empty containers and to reduce the global fleet of containers. When you see containers on the roads today, some 30-45 percent of them are empty. Our service can help avoid this. The potential savings are USD 5.7 billion annually, but that's only if the carriers work together."
How does blockchain technology and your platform help shipping companies work together?
"Blockchain makes it easier to collaborate, as the shipping companies actually don't even have to trust each other. Trust is built into the system, and this means that even major competitors can work together. The system will also enable the companies to decide for themselves with whom to share information about a container on the various routes."
Are you already in talks with shipping companies?
"We're currently talking to four of the biggest carriers, which are in the Top 10 in the container sector. They're very curious and ask detailed questions on a level where one can sense that it's not just a matter of getting information. This indicates a significant interested from their side."
Wants to raise USD 24.8 million
There are already a couple of companies that are trying to solve the same problem as you. How does your platform differ from the others?
"The difference between us and other services is that we will hopefully get a much bigger share of the global market on our platform compared to the current operators with gray box concepts, who have a fairly small market share. It will be much easier for shipping companies to share containers with each other when you have a platform with a large market share. Another, very significant difference is that these few, other companies offering certain services that look like parts of what our platform offers, don't use blockchain technology at all, rather they rely exclusively on traditional technology."
So your platform also depends on whether the biggest shipping companies get on board?
"Yes, that's right. But we also offer them a chance to realize major savings at a time when the shipping industry is very strained. But this is of course only if they're willing to work together. Right now we're seeing some carriers say that they'll be the UPS or FedEx of the future, and these companies don't own their own containers. Our concept is to supply 'container as a service', where one can share and book space on others' containers, and in this sense, this is a fairly unique concept in the shipping sector. And we also have the benefit of being neutral, so that no one feels that one carrier has an advantage over the others."
Blockshipping has so far raised DKK 2 million (USD 330,177) in financing, but the company hopes to raise USD 24.8 million through its ICO. Preliminary subscriptions have begun, but the official sale will begin on April 15.
English Edit: Daniel Logan Berg-Munch