Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) announced today that its nine ocean carrier members have committed to the adoption of an electronic bill of lading (eBL).
Switching away from the transfer of physical paper bills of lading could save $6.5 billion in direct costs and enable $30-40 billion in annual global trade growth, while transforming the customer experience and increasing sustainability in the sector, according to DCSA.
Founded in 2019, DCSA is a neutral, non-profit group established by major ocean carriers to create common information technology standards in the container shipping industry to boost efficiency for shipping lines and customers. Its members include MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, ONE, Evergreen, Yang Ming, HMM and ZIM.
The bill of lading is one of the most important trade documents in container shipping, functioning as a document of title, receipt for shipped goods and a record of agreed terms and conditions. Ocean carriers issue around 45 million bills of lading a year, the vast majority of which are physical paper bills. In 2021, only 1.2% of were electronic.
With today’s announcement, DCSA carriers are committing to converting 50% of original bills of lading to digital within five years and 100% by 2030.
DCSA says the use of electronic bills of lading will not only help to transform the customer experience but also improve sustainability and accelerate digitalization in shipping.
“The digitalization of international trade holds vast potential for the world economy by reducing friction and, as trade brings prosperity and the eBL will further enable trade, helping bring millions out of poverty,” said Thomas Bagge, CEO of DCSA. “This heralds the start of a new era in container shipping as the industry transitions to scaled automation and fully paperless trade. Document digitalization has the power to transform international trade and requires collaboration from all stakeholders.”
“I am delighted that carriers are taking this big step towards paperless trade,” said Soren Toft, CEO of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, the world’s largest container shipping company. “Our industry needs to accelerate digitalization to help make shipping more efficient, more secure and a better experience for our customers. On top of these benefits, moving to 100% eBL will contribute towards our climate goals, as we move towards net zero 2050.”
“This is an important step in the journey towards creating a digital standard of one of the most cost heavy and troublesome components in the shipping industry,” added Vincent Clerc, CEO at A.P. Moller -Maersk. “A fully digitized bill of lading enables a more seamless customer experience across the supply chain and in turn it will help democratize trade and reduce time and costs for all involved parties. The need for digitization in logistics is urgent, and the industry needs to speed up the process.”