Electronic bill of lading to help shippers, ease of doing business


India will be one of the first countries to use the International Federation of Freight Forwarders (FIATA) Paperless Multimodal Bill of Lading (eFBL), which is expected to make doing business easier by saving shippers time and money.

A Bill of Lading (BoL) is a legal document issued by a shipping company to a shipper that details the type, quantity and destination of goods being transported. It is used in international trade to ensure that exporters are paid and importers receive the goods. The eFBL is a standard multimodal negotiable BoL, set up by FIATA, for freight forwarders acting as multimodal transport operators. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) logo in the document signifies its compliance with UNCTAD/ICC rules.

Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal Saturday launched the eFBL at the 24th Biennial Convention of the Federation of Freight Forwarders Association of India (FFFAI) in Chennai.

AV Vijayakumar, former president of FFFAI, which will publish the eFBL document in India, said the electronic mode will reduce delays while ensuring trust and security among different stakeholders. The validity of the document and the identity of the sender can be checked at any time. The electronic document will also save paper and courier services, helping to achieve sustainability goals, he said.

In its paper form, the BoL takes three to four days to pass from seller to buyer. The eFBL, on the other hand, can be generated in minutes and securely emailed, or integrated into existing business applications, or even printed, he added.

Based on blockchain technology, the eFBL provides transparency, security and accountability in the supply chain. According to FIATA, the “normal eBoL” is based on electronic data interchange technology and records all title transfers of goods in a centralized register. ‘Blockchain eBoL’ uses blockchain technology, allowing the carrier, sender, receiver, bank and other participants to complete and oversee the BoL issuance, approval and remittance process at the same time .

Pramod Sant, former Import, Export and Customs Manager at Siemens Ltd, said: “For an exporter, the eFBL will ensure that the BoL is received and traded faster, which will result in a realisation. faster.”

Agreeing with Sant, Vittal Raj, a cybersecurity expert, said the eFBL will allow partners in the international trade ecosystem to benefit in terms of speed, authenticity, cost of operations and overall efficiency. However, the technologies that power a digitized trading ecosystem – such as a cloud-based central BoL repository, encryption, blockchain, and the redesign of existing applications to seamlessly adopt open data standards – should effectively manage the increase in lending. ‘eBoL and associated business document volumes, in addition to overcoming the challenges of user technology and adoption, and the need for universal acceptance of a common regulatory framework.

Published on

August 16, 2022


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