OPENING REMARKS BY MS QUAH LEY HOON, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, MARITIME AND PORT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE AT THE MARITIME BLOCKCHAIN FORUM 2019 AT PAN PACIFIC SINGAPORE, ON 22 MAY 2019

22 May 2019

Good Afternoon, everyone.

2nd Maritime Blockchain Forum: To Deepen Knowledge

1.     This is MPA’s second run of the Maritime Blockchain Forum. During the first round last year, we focused on demystifying and understanding blockchain, as well as considered some early applications for the technology.  We have decided to go for a second run given the promising headway blockchain has made as a technology enabler especially if we pick the right application use cases.  This second run will allow us to further showcase more industry-specific examples, and hopefully we can identify how to advance blockchain technology to help our industry move forward. 

2.     This is timely as our industry undergoes stronger regulations, digitalisation and industry revolution 4.0.  Almost all the players I have met in the past months have told me that innovation and digitalisation are the way forward to take the industry to new levels of effectiveness, productivity and growth, yet not all know what to do.

3.     Blockchain is one particular enabling technology for the industry.  It harnesses the strength of an open community allowing first movers, early adopters and experimenters of new technologies.

4.    Blockchain has made inroads in a number of industry including financial, insurance and digital identities.  In the financial services sector, blockchain has helped to redefine the clearing and settlement processes.  Can blockchain be the breakthroughs that the maritime and shipping industry need?  For this to work, we need to pick the right application use cases, start off with pilots and trials, so as to demonstrate the business case for a wider implementation of the technology.

State of Blockchain Adoption in the Maritime Sector

5.     In our industry, blockchain pilots, proof of concepts, and startup innovations have made inroads into areas such as ship registration, bunker fuel supply chain, documentation, virtual currencies and tokens.  Some new business and operating models have emerged.

6.     However, blockchain implementations are complex because there are multiple stakeholders, processes and varying systems to be integrated, sometimes across geographical locations.  There are many on-going projects and initiatives, but we still don’t have the scale for widespread adoption.  How to break through this impasse?  We hope that through our speakers today, we can get an update of the evolving landscape of blockchain technology, and concrete projects including that from other industries such as trade finance to allow maritime industry to scale up our adoption of blockchain. 

How to move forward?

7.     The most important question we need to answer is “how do we move forward from here?”  I think the answer is “inter-operability”.  Indeed, how do we facilitate interoperability between systems for widespread adoption?  How do we encourage our industry and technology partners to come together, and work together to bring together the many pilots today into mass adoption for the effect of scale?
 
8.     There is one such attempt on interoperability.  Some of you would recall that in January, MPA, Singapore Customs, Info-communications Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Singapore Shipping Association stepped up cooperation to bring our efforts on electronic bill of lading forward through TradeTrust – our interoperability framework effort to bring different systems together and reach out to the wider trade and supply chain community.  Last month, MPA, IMDA and Port of Rotterdam came together to conduct an electronic bill of lading interoperability workshop.  We discussed how we could develop standards for interoperability.  I hope to hear more of such efforts on interoperability in other areas.  

9.     Another attempt is in the area of smart contracts and digital identities. MPA explored the use of blockchain for specific certificates required by multiple parties for the ship registration process.  Through this experimentation, we learnt that blockchain has good potential to obviate the need for manual documentation and reduces costs and time wastage spent on verifying certain ship registration information.  I encourage everyone to keep looking out for opportunities where blockchain can help to ease inefficient processes.

Conclusion

10.     Blockchain has promise, but there are challenges.  I’d like to end with a quote on Blockchain by Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft.  He said that blockchain is a technology tour de force; a technology masterpiece.  I hope that his optimistic view on this disruptive technology will prompt you to continue the efforts and experimentation to enable blockchain to transform our industry. 

11.     Thank you.