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- Tradelens is to be shuttered after five years of use
- The IBM/Maersk venture was meant to revolutionize shipping using the blockchain
- Its demise is the biggest example yet of blockchain’s failed dreams
Tradelens, the blockchain logistics solution created by IBM and shipping giant Maersk, is to be wound down after failing to attract the requisite number of customers. Tradelens, which was born from the enterprise blockchain ‘revolution’ of 2017-18, was touted as one of the pioneering blockchain solutions for supply chain companies, but it has failed to get enough users to warrant its continuation. The news is another nail in the coffin for the suggestion that blockchain technology was set to revolutionize the world of trade and commerce.
Not Enough Industry Collaboration
Tradelens was announced to the world in August 2018 and launched that December, with one million shipping events per day published to the platform initially. More shipping companies and some customs authorities also joined the program, which used IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric blockchain, and it seemed that Tradelens was going to take the logistics world by storm.
However, it seems that despite the claims of growth, Tradelens was not earning itself enough money to stay afloat. In a statement published yesterday, Rotem Hershko, Head of Business Platforms at A.P. Moller – Maersk, said that “the need for full global industry collaboration has not been achieved” and as a result “TradeLens has not reached the level of commercial viability necessary to continue work and meet the financial expectations as an independent business.”
In short, this means that not enough shipping companies, port authorities and customs houses were willing to be onboarded to Tradelens. Tradelens will now instead be wound down over the next four months, with the lights being turned off at the end of Q1 2023.
Blockchain Dream Dies
The demise of Tradelens is in many ways symbolic of the end of the blockchain dream, a dream that fueled the 2017 bull market and brought us the prospect of housing, holidays, bananas, logistics, and more, all tracked transparently through blockchain technology.
However, the dream has died an undignified death over the following five years, and the closure of Tradelens is the biggest indicator yet that the world still isn’t yet ready for what blockchain can offer.