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Maersk and IBM plan to take TradeLens offline in the first quarter of 2023. The blockchain platform records the contents, journey and trade of shipping containers. Now, four years after its launch in 2018, the end is in sight.

TradeLens was developed by IBM and GTD Solution, a division of Maersk. The platform uses blockchain technology to record the contents, journey and trade of shipping containers. The idea is that port authorities can quickly assess who sold or bought a container, whether the contents match the agreement and what needs to be done.

Such information has historically been recorded in paper records. Most containers don’t leave a port until the records check out. Importers, exporters and port operators spend a lot of time recording and exchanging information. TradeLens automates the process.

A platform like TradeLens only reaches its full potential when a large part of the industry accepts the technology. A blockchain record has little use when the data is invalidated as soon as a shipment arrives at its destination. Industry standards are important for international trade and logistics. Getting a foot in the door with new technology is difficult.

End is near

The latter seems to be the biggest reason for TradeLens’ demise. IBM and Maersk recently announced that the platform will soon be unavailable. The plan is to take TradeLens offline within the first quarter of 2023. The organizations disclosed the news in an official statement.

“While we successfully developed a viable platform, the need for full global industry collaboration has not been achieved”, wrote Rotem Hershko, Head of Business Platforms at A.P. Moller – Maersk. “As a result, TradeLens has not reached the level of commercial viability necessary to continue work.”

Since its launch, the platform has been used by more than 150 organizations, including port operators, importers, exporters and two of the world’s largest container carriers — CMA CGM and Mediterranean Shipping Company. IBM maintains that the platform can speed up the delivery of goods by up to 40 percent.

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