One estimate shows that global container shipping generates 28.5 billion paper documents a year. Yearly, paper bills of lading cost an estimated $11 billion and still only 1.2% of bills of lading were electronic by the end of 2021. Modernizing the trade industry through digitization is just one of the pain points industry stakeholders at large can agree upon. Simply moving from paper to PDF cuts down on cost, reduces environmental impact, and improves a single company’s internal efficiency. But that one step doesn’t address critical industry needs such as security and interoperability. This is where open source standards provide a comprehensive pathway towards a modernized supply chain.
To address some of global trade’s key pain points, we look for technologies that:
- Codify networks of trust;
- Add community value;
- Free you from vendor lock; and
- Offer peak interoperability.
Open source standards as applied to the trade industry have demonstrated the answer.
Open Source Standards Provide Supply Chain Security and Enable Stakeholder Interoperability
Open source standards for Verifiable Credentials (VCs) and Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) have created an ability for trust to travel with data by issuing authoritative information about companies and products. The key to supply chain interoperability is to meet customers on the systems they already rely on. Software that builds on top of standards with this requirement in mind will enable companies to securely share verifiable data across existing silos. Speaking “the same language,” which is at its core the definition of standards, is the function of JSON-LD (literally Linked Data)
Standards Applied to Supply Chain
Linked Data, Verifiable Credentials (VCs), and Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) are emerging standards which will revolutionize all industries of trade.
- W3C Data Integrity/Linked Data Signatures – “The term Linked Data is used to describe a recommended best practice for exposing, sharing, and connecting information on the Web using standards, such as URLs, to identify things and their properties. When information is presented as Linked Data, other related information can be easily discovered and new information can be easily linked to it. Linked Data is extensible in a decentralized way, greatly reducing barriers to large scale integration.”
- W3C Verifiable Credentials – The VCs specification “provides a mechanism to express these sorts of credentials on the Web in a way that is cryptographically secure, privacy respecting, and machine-verifiable.”
- W3C DID Specification – DIDs allow shipping parties to authenticate as the controller of a DID which can thus be used across carriers and electronic bill of lading platform providers
- W3C Traceability Vocabulary Specification – The trace-vocab specification defines a collection of common documentation and data forms for digital representation “designed to enable global supply chain stakeholders to benefit from emerging technological web standards like the Verifiable Credential (VC) Data Model, Linked Data (i.e. JSON-LD), and the Decentralized Identifier (DID) Spec.”
- W3C Traceability Interop Specification – Trace-interop outlines discovery and exchange mechanisms for Verifiable Presentations of VCs. Trace-interop provides a “how” for trace-vocab’s “what.”
Wide adoption of these open source standards brings tremendous security and interoperability value to a digitized supply chain without compromising competitiveness.
Transmute is an Austin, Texas-based technology company that leverages open standards-compliant decentralized identifier-based technology to secure critical trade data related to suppliers, products, and shipments to give customers a competitive edge in the increasingly dynamic global marketplace. Transmute partners with innovative enterprises and governments to build digital trust ecosystems where this data can be securely exchanged across diverse stakeholders and technology vendors.
- W3C Decentralized Identifiers
- W3C Verifiable Credentials
- JSON Web Token (JWT)
- JSON Web Key (JWK)