Fiata, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, has released a paperless version of its Fiata bill of lading (FBL), which it says will allows its members to become “digital freight forwarders”.

The negotiable Fiata multimodal transport bill of lading was established more than 30 years ago as a physical trade document. It is used in international transactions in which the goods are carried by two or more modes of transportation, so that aside from having individual waybills for each of the different modes of transportation, there is one standardised document that can be sent from the seller to the buyer, allowing them to acquire the goods.

Work on digitising the document initially began in 2018, and was accelerated in June 2020 with the implementation of Fiata’s digital strategy, which included a data standard for the electronic FBL (eFBL) that allows the exchange of bill of lading data in standardised way, facilitating interoperability between all modes of transport and industry stakeholders.

The eFBL, which is now available, uses commodity trade finance platform Komgo’s Trakk, a blockchain-based solution that works to minimise fraud and falsification risks by allowing users to stamp, trace and authenticate digital documents.

A document issuer can decide in which format they wish to share the original unaltered document with their stakeholders: in paper form or as a PDF. Through an API-enabled connection to Fiata’s systems, they can create secure paperless FBLs using certified information on member companies. Stakeholders will be able to either scan a QR code on the document, or directly upload the PDF to Fiata’s verification page to access the document audit trail which will certify the validity of the document, the identity of its issuer, and the integrity of its content.

“Documents are the bedrock of international trade, but they don’t operate like we need them to and they’re susceptible to fraud and forgery that happens quite often,” says Souleïma Baddi, CEO of Komgo. “Trakk is the digital ecosystem of trust for trade documents. I am thrilled to see Fiata joining all companies, financial institutions, warehouses and others who are using Trakk to protect their documents against fraud.”

So far, seven software providers have signed an agreement with Fiata to implement the solution: Akanea, Cargowise, CargoX, edoxOnline, InfoSysTech-IST, Nabu and Usyncro.

“Today marks a special day in the history of global trade, and for the people developing digital solutions for ocean shipping and freight forwarding. In less than four years since sending the first commercial blockchain bill of lading in the world on the CargoX platform, we are happy to witness how the most powerful association of freight forwarders is adopting blockchain bill of lading technology,” says Stefan Kukman, founder and CEO of CargoX.

Fiata is now calling on all transportation management tools and eBL providers to implement its solution.