The First Blockchain eCO
In another claimed blockchain-related breakthrough, on 9 May 2018 the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce announced it’s become the world’s first chamber to offer a blockchain-based e-Certificate of Origin (eCO) platform to support the digitalization of trade.
The Certificate of Origin
Those who regularly deal with trade finance in their work are very familiar with the Certificate of Origin - commonly abbreviated as CO, C/O, or COO. The Certificate of Origin is a document which identifies the origin country of goods being exported, and is compulsory in nearly all imports and exports in trade finance.
Uses of a Blockchain enabled eCertificate of Origin
Developed by Singapore-based trade facilitation solutions provider vCargo Cloud, the platform aims to significantly improve transparency, security, and efficiency in authenticating trade documents.
The order of events for the eCO will go roughly as follows: once the eCO is generated and approved by the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce (who will oversee the process), it will be linked to the other computers (or nodes) in the blockchain, at which point it will be instantly accessible to the exporter, the importer, and other users along the line. This process theoretically allows instant verification of eCOs and functions on a tamper-proof private blockchain network that prevents fraud, alterations, and third-party interference.
According to reports, use of this new system has already begun, and new clients will be phased in over time.
In the irreversible pursuit of digitalization, things are happening at a dizzying pace in Singapore and at the international level. To stay current with the push toward electronic compatibility of trade finance and LC rules, plan to attend the Annual Survey of LC Law & Practice in Singapore and Hong Kong in July 2018. The opening panel of these events is entitled "Digitization and the Future of LCs", and will focus on emergent technologies such as blockchain, and their impacts on trade finance. Expect the blockchain eCO to emerge within the discussions on day one of these events.
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