As part of Dubai 10X, an initiative to put Dubai 10 years ahead of other world cities in terms of technology, the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Port Authority, called DP World, formed a joint team to develop the Digital Silk Road. This smart platform would aim to solve the global trading system’s key issues–high costs, low trust, and lack of transparency using blockchain technology.
The Digital Silk Road is a broad, multi-year initiative. It’s intended to be a one-stop digital trading platform, marketplace, and matchmaker for people seeking and providing trade services. The starting point was two projects that serve as the foundation for the Digital Silk Road: Unification of Trade Registration and Export Authorization.
In Dubai, registering to import or export even a single container of goods was neither smooth nor easy. In reality, it was a lengthy process that touched on many authorities.
First, a company needed to register for a trade license to operate in the country. To import or export, it also registered with DP World. Next it registered with Dubai Trade, Dubai Chamber of Commerce, and Dubai Customs. And if the trader ever updated anything? There would be gaps in the information among authorities.
For export, the process took even more steps. Exporters needed a Certificate of Origin, issued by Dubai Chamber. The exporter took the certificate and export declaration to DP World to gather documentation. Then to Dubai Customs to gather more documentation. All those documents would move from one organization to another until the goods finally left the country.
Dubai Chamber and DP World wanted to break ground on the Digital Silk by unifying trade registrations and replicate information across all the authorities. They also set a goal streamlining the exporting process and making it paperless. So they teamed up with Avanza Innovations on the Unification of Trade Registration and the Export Authorization projects, which went live in January 2020. Avanza built and deployed the projects on Hyperledger Fabric as it was a mature, tested blockchain platform that had demonstrated it could handle production-grade transactions
Now, with the Unification of Trade Registration, a company wanting to do business in Dubai can register once, through a secure, single-window interface. The data gets distributed across all government trade entities. And if the company needs to update any information, the new information is instantly shared by all.
Export Authorization tracks trade transactions, reduces transaction time, and enables secure, encrypted digital authentication. Seamless documentation sharing with relevant government entities happens through smart contracts. Compliance and regulatory checks happen throughout the process, which is completely paperless.
Hyperledger worked up with Avanza Innovation on a case study that covers blockchain’s role in Dubai’s ambitious technology plans, details the initial Digital Silk Road projects that are in production now, automating international trade, and previews future plans for the digital marketplace.
Read the full case study here.