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Singapore International Chamber of Commerce launches world’s first blockchain-based e-Certificate of Origin

Singapore International Chamber of Commerce launches world’s first blockchain-based e-Certificate of Origin

On 8 May, Singapore
International Chamber of Commerce
(SICC) became the world’s first chamber to
offer a blockchain-based e-Certificate of Origin (eCO) platform to drive the
digitalisation of trade.

A
certificate of origin (CO) is an international trade document which certifies
that the goods in a specific shipment have been wholly obtained, produced,
manufactured or processed in the stated country.

As the
first chamber in the world to implement blockchain-based eCOs, SICC seeks to
provide its members, trade-related agencies and users of complementary services
such as trade financing and insurance with a trade facilitation system that
offers higher security, efficiency and flexibility.

The launch
ceremony for the eCO was officiated by Mr Chua Taik Him, Senior Advisor of
Enterprise Singapore, and attended by over 100 senior officials from
trade-related agencies and industry leaders.

At the
launch, Mr Chua remarked that the initiative is significant as it will
strengthen Singapore’s competitiveness as an international trading hub through
reinforcing its digital connectivity with the global markets.

Developed
by Singapore-based cross-border trade facilitation solutions provider vCargo
Cloud, the solution will vastly improve transparency, security and efficiency
in authenticating trade documents.

Users
of the eCO platform go through the following steps to obtain the eCO: first, an
exporter applies for CO online, which the Chamber is responsible to approve and
issue. Then, a digital copy of the CO is added into the blockchain. The smart
digital CO is propagated to all blockchain nodes. Lastly, the authenticity of
the digital CO is verified by the importer(s) and/or bank(s) using QR code
printed on the CO.

The
platform utilises QR codes, allowing eCOs to be scanned using smart phones and
then printed. The number of allowable prints is restricted to prevent
unauthorised duplicates. This improves efficiency and minimises the costs of
verifying COs, removing a major impediment in the process and a frequent cause
of high insurance or trade finance costs.

“This
new eCO system revolutionises what are today still essentially 19th century
processes, providing greater security for all users as well as a clear,
unambiguous audit trail through the use of blockchain technology,” said Mr
Victor Mills, Chief Executive of SICC.

Credit: Singapore International Chamber of Commerce and VCargo Cloud

The
platform aims to vastly improve transparency,
security and efficiency in authenticating trade documents. It permits instant
verification of eCOs and runs on a tamper-proof private blockchain network that
prevents fraud, alterations and third-party interference.

The launch
will see an initial group of users moving to the new system, with the remaining
users transiting in subsequent phases.

The launch
of the blockchain-based eCO platform comes amidst the Singapore Government’s
call for a Self-Certification regime through the ASEAN Single Window, which
aims to expedite freight clearance and reduce manual paperwork across all 10
member countries.

Founded in 1837, SICC is Singapore’s
longest serving voice of the private sector. It represents over 600 companies,
40 nationalities and 20 business sectors. Membership is equally split between local
and foreign multi-nationals and large organisations and medium, small and
start-up companies.