The Australian Border Force (ABF), Singapore Customs, and other industry representatives have completed a blockchain trial project analyzing the status of the countries’ digital verification systems in issuing and verifying trade documents.
The joint venture was part of the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement, which aimed to improve the efficiency of trade between the two countries while reducing economic friction in cross-border payment transactions.
The interoperability of two digital verification systems — the ABF’s Intergovernmental Ledger and IMDA’s TradeTrust reference implementation — was investigated in order to better understand the possibility of producing “high integrity digital trade documents that can be instantly authenticated, provenance traced, and digitally processed.”
“QR-codes embedded with unique proofs are inserted into digital certificates of origin (COO), enabling immediate verification for authenticity and integrity of the document when scanned or machine-read,” according to the official release.
High-profile industry organizations such as the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Australian Industry Group, as well as financial institutions such as ANZ Bank, DBS Bank, and Standard Chartered, who participated in the trial, expressed the benefits of increased cost and time efficiency through the use of verifiable COOs.
When the trial was announced in November 2020, it was hoped that digitizing COOs would pave the way for a shift away from reliance on paper-based documentation, a medium that not only harms the environment but also slows supply chains because businesses frequently delay approval until hard-copy documents are delivered by couriers.
ABF commissioner Michael Outram commented on the promising results of the trials:
“Digital verification and verifiable documents show promise as a ‘circuit-breaker’ to disrupt authorities’ reliance on persistent paper-based evidence.”
“The instant authentication of digital COOs is a meaningful step towards building a trusted trade ecosystem where verifying the provenance of goods is performed with great efficiency,” said Himanshu Maggo of Standard Chartered Bank.