The joint venture between Australia and Singapore saw a nine-month blockchain initiative assessing the cost and time efficiency of the two countries’ digital verification systems has been deemed to be a success.
The Australian Border Force (ABF), Singapore Customs, the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA), and other industry representatives have completed a blockchain trial project to assess the status of the countries’ digital verification systems for issuing and verifying trade documents.
The joint venture was part of the Australia–Singapore Digital Economy Agreement, which aims to improve the efficiency of trade between the two countries while reducing economic friction in cross-border payments.
The interoperability of the two digital verification systems — the ABF’s Intergovernmental Ledger and the IMDA’s TradeTrust reference implementation — was investigated to see if “high integrity digital trade documents that can be instantly authenticated, provenance traced, and digitally processed” could be created.
“QR-codes integrated with unique proofs are incorporated into digital certificates of origin (COO), providing quick verification for authenticity and integrity of the document when scanned or machine-read,” according to the official press 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, all of which participated in the trial, praised the advantages 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 paper-based documentation, which not only harms the environment but also slows supply chains because businesses often wait until hard-copy documents are delivered by couriers before approving them.
Commissioner Michael Outram of the ABF commented on the promising outcomes of the trials:
“Digital verification and verifiable documents show promise as a ‘circuit-breaker’ to disrupt persistent paper-based evidence required by authorities.”
“The rapid authentication of digital COOs is a meaningful step towards developing a trusted commerce environment where confirming the provenance of commodities is conducted with remarkable efficiency,” stated Himanshu Maggo of Standard Chartered Bank.