On December 26, officials at Saudi Arabia's customs office announced the completion of a blockchain pilot that links the nation's cross-border trade platform, FASAH, to the blockchain-powered global shipping platform TradeLens. The pilot program is part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy, develop its digital infrastructure, attract international investors, and become a logistical hub.
The TradeLens platform was unveiled in August 2018 by technology giant IBM and Danish shipping and logistics company Maersk. At that time, the program boasted 94 different participants and had already recorded 154 million shipping events.
The intended result of the integration of FASAH with TradeLens is to "ensure immutability, traceability, reduced reconciliation, auditability, and compliance" for services related to trading goods across borders. Blockchain technology is a key component of achieving these goals; Saudi Customs has been exploring use cases for blockchain "to create a real solution for a fragmented peer-to-peer business ecosystem" and solve problems inherent to blockchain technology, such as scalability and data interoperability.
In its announcement, Saudi Customs expressed the desire to be a key player in the advancement of blockchain technology adoption:
"By being an early adopter to the blockchain, Saudi Customs is committed to educate, experiment and extend to the broader ecosystem by setting realistic expectations, experimenting, understanding the decentralized nature of this technology and preparing to migrate away from the traditional platform technology."
Last February, blockchain company Ripple announced it had agreed with Saudi Arabia's central bank to use its xCurrent software to facilitate the settlement of cross-border payments.