Commonwealth Bank of Australia Applies Blockchain to Global Trade Experiment

August 03

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (“CommBank”) (Australia’s largest bank by market capitalisation) has recently confirmed that they have successfully applied blockchain and internet of things technology to a global trade shipment involving 17 tons of almonds. The almonds were shipped from Sunraysia, Australia to Hamburg, Germany. The other companies involved included the Port of Melbourne, Pacific National and Olam Orchards Australia Pty Ltd.

CommBank used the Ethereum blockchain for the experiment because of its large developer community and functionality.  It left open the possibility of using other blockchains and distributed ledger technologies in the future. It was a private blockchain, and was likely permissioned.

Blockchain has the potential to disrupt global supply chains because it enables the transparent verification and traceability of certain endpoints being met throughout a supply chain, with less risk of fraud and of administrative errors with the trade documentation.

Notably, this is not the first international blockchain pilot that CommBank has been part of. In 2016  CommBank and Wells Fargo conducted the world’s (apparent) first global trade transaction that utilised blockchain between two independent banks. Major corporations have also continued to explore how the technology can be used to make processes more efficient. Particularly, it was recently reported that IBM and Maersk are approaching various companies to join a global blockchain trade platform. Viant, a ConsenSys built platform, have also developed a platform that will apparently enable the application of Ethereum to a range of supply chains across different industries, where payments under their platform will occur if certain trigger conditions are met through a smart contract.

With financial institutions, technology companies and logistics conglomerates each exploring how blockchain can be applied to supply chains, it will interesting to observe if new standards or practices are agreed between supply chain stakeholders, or if this disruption will result in a more fragmented industry.

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