Australia and Singapore conclude digital verification blockchain pilot

The Australian Border Force (ABF), Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA) and Singapore Customs, along with other industry representations, have concluded a blockchain trial project analyzing the status of the countries’ digital verification systems in issuing and verifying trade documents.

The collaborative venture was a part of the Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement — an initiative designed to increase the efficiency of trade between the two countries, as well as to minimize economic friction in cross-border payments.

The interoperability of the two digital verification systems — the ABF’s Intergovernmental Ledger and IMDA’s TradeTrust reference implementation — was analyzed to understand the possibility of creating “high integrity digital trade documents that can be instantly authenticated, provenance traced, and digitally processed.”

According to the official release, “QR-codes embedded with unique proofs are inserted into digital certificates of origin (COO), enabling immediate verification for authenticity and integrity of the document when scanned or machine-read.”

High-profile organizations from the industry, including the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Australian Industry Group, as well as financial entities such as ANZ Bank, DBS Bank and Standard Chartered, which played a role in the trial, expressed the benefits of the increased efficiency of both cost and time through the use of verifiable COO’s.

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When the trial was announced back in November 2020, it was hoped that digitizing COOs would pioneer a transition away from the reliance on paper-based documentation, a medium that not only harms the environment but also slows supply chains, as businesses often delay approval until hard-copy documents are delivered by couriers.

On the trials promising results, ABF commissioner Michael Outram noted:

“Digital verification and verifiable documents show promise as a ‘circuit-breaker’ to disrupt persistent paper-based evidence required by authorities.”

Standard Chartered Bank’s Himanshu Maggo said, “The instant authentication of digital COOs is a meaningful step towards building a trusted trade ecosystem where verifying the provenance of goods is performed with great efficiency.”

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