Alibaba’s fintech division, Ant Financial, has inked an agreement with COSCO Shipping to develop the management of supply chain logistics data through the use of blockchain technologies, according to the article by Smart Maritime Network. Ant Financial, the parent company of online payment platform Alipay, has teamed up with COSCO in an ongoing effort to break into the shipping and transport industry, and is next in the line of various efforts it has made in its focus on blockchain capabilities. In September 2018, Ant Financial set up Ant Financial Technology, targeted towards blockchain and similar products and services. Following that, in April 2020, Ant Financial released its own OpenChain blockchain platform, which provided SMEs and developers access to its technologies and use smart contracts and decentralised apps (DApps). COSCO Shipping, which was established in 2016, is one of the founders of Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN), a non-profit organisation that provides a safe platform to conduct data exchange for businesses involved in supply chain, helping to further the digitalisation of the shipping industry. This is not COSCO Shipping’s first foray into blockchain, having been linked to numerous other blockchain enterprises previously. In April, a new application to manage cargo release processes was developed by Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), Tesla and CargoSmart making use of blockchain technology to be used by members of the GSBN. Working with COSCO Shipping is yet another step Ant Financial has taken in expressing its interest in the shipping and transport industries. In June, Ant Financial signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China Merchants Port to work on a digital port logistics ecosystem. In the same month, Ant Financial’s parent company, Alibaba, also signed up for the International Port Community Systems Association’s (IPSCA) blockchain Bill of Lading initiative, which aims to bring together organisations working on applications for blockchain in logistics and e-commerce.
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