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TEU Token

The creators of a new industry-specific digital currency that shippers can use to book ocean shipments say so-called “cryptocurrency” could help reduce carrier overbooking and shipper no-shows, which cost the industry some $23 billion annually.

The Hong Kong-based 300 Cubits recently introduced the TEU, not the container unit but rather a digital dollar that replaces traditional currencies as the deposit for shipment bookings, providing greater visibility to the booking process and allowing users to penalize bad behaviour. Whereas other tech startups have introduced digital management platforms to achieve the same goals, 300Cubits’ founders say they’re offering something different: not a place for transaction, but a means of transaction.

The company introduced the new TEU crypto currency to the market, putting some up for sale and giving others away to container lines and shippers “who actively promote the tokens for early adoption.” The TEU tokens are blockchain-based, which means they are tethered to a decentralized, distributed digital ledger used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively.

Blockchain is a largely back-end technology, which means there’s very little change for the user, both shipper and carrier, according to Johnson Leung, a longtime shipping finance analyst formerly with Jefferies who founded 300Cubits with his partner Jonathan Lee.

“The biggest change is the acceptance of TEU tokens as a booking deposit, which is a more commercial decision than a technical call,” Leung told, “We do not plan on a substantial change in terms of user interface experience other than having one more option for the user to choose whether to use TEU tokens and the amount to put it before the shipper clicks on the book button.”

The tokens were named TEU to honor, in a way, the classical unit of measurement for container shipping, said Leung.

“TEU is a kind of a classical unit for container shipping that is getting less and less used,” Leung said. “We just think that the people in the industry would appreciate the name as TEU when naming something that could be the money for the industry.”

In an era marked by the buzzword “disruption,” Leung was clear that TEU tokens are not disrupting any existing system or process in the container shipping industry. TEU tokens are like an industry-specific bitcoin, another blockchain-based cryptocurrency. Put simply, Leung said, “We play part of what the dollar does today in container shipping.”

According to a white paper prepared by the company, once TEU tokens are used to book shipment their value could be lost if a customer does not turn up with cargo or a carrier does not load cargo according to a confirmed booking.

Trust, or lack thereof, is the biggest pain point in the container shipping industry, according to 300 Cubits.

“Unlike ticket booking in airlines, customers in container shipping do not bear any consequence for not showing up for bookings. Industry people complain the lack of trust between liners and customers,” the company said in a statement. The TEU token can change that.

While it is aimed at tackling overbookings and no-shows and providing greater visibility into the container shipping industry, 300Cubits should not be confused with other tech firms attempting to accomplish the same feat through different avenues. Leung’s company only provides the means of transaction. It does not provide the actual space for where carriers and shippers can transact, like the New York Shipping Exchange, an online portal through which carrier cargo space can be booked and which also monitors whether the booking is fulfilled by shipper and carrier.

According to Leung, the container shipping industry is a $150 billion industry that has been in “constant distress” since the economic crisis of 2008. Subtle technological innovations, like digital currencies and digital marketplaces to use them, are going to be the means to ease that volatility.

Frequently Asked Questions regarding TEU – 300cubits.tech

300Cubits White Paper – 300cubits.tech

Source: www.dailyshippingtimes.com, 3 August 2017.

Container weighingThe responsibility for verifying the gross weight of loaded containers under next year’s new box-weighing rules will in many cases rest with freight forwarders, logistics operators or NVOCCs, according to freight transport insurance specialist TT Club.

Welcoming the initiative of the World Shipping Council (WSC) in its recent publication of guidelines to the industry in relation to implementing the SOLAS requirements that become mandatory on 1 July 2016, TT Club noted that unlike the CTU Code, which forensically seeks to identify the chain of responsibility for everyone involved in the movement of freight, the amendment to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) mandating the verification of gross mass of container overtly only names the ‘shipper’, the ‘master’ and the ‘terminal representative’, and – by implication – the competent authorities.

TT Club said the complex nature of logistics means that the term ‘shipper’ may encompass a range of people involved in the contracting, packing and transporting of cargo. However, as stated in the WSC guidance, it said the key commercial relationship in question is with the person whose name is placed on the ocean carrier’s bill of lading.

“Thus, in many cases, the responsibility for actual ‘verified’ declaration will rest with a freight forwarder, logistics operator or NVOC. This means that often reliance will have to be placed on others to have adequate certified methods to provide verified gross mass – particularly for consolidation business,” TT Club said.

It noted that of course many suppliers of homogenous shipments will already have advanced systems, which merely require some form of national certification, adding: “Apart from having a sustainable method by which the gross mass is verified, the shipper also needs to communicate it (‘signed’ meaning that there is an accountable person) in advance of the vessel’s stow plan being prepared.

“The information will be sent by the shipper to the carrier, but with joint service arrangements there may be a number of carriers involved, with one taking responsibility to consolidate the manifest information, in addition to communication with the terminal.”
It said the ‘master’ comprises a number of functions within the carrier’s organisation.

“Implicit in the SOLAS amendment is that the carrier sets in place processes that ensure that verified gross mass is available and used in planning the ship stow,” TT Club said. “Arguably, each carrier will need to amend systems and processes to capture ‘verified’ information.

“However, the simplest might be to amend the booking process, so that the gross mass information is left blank in the system until ‘verified’ data are available. This will be effective if it is clearly understood by all partner lines and terminals with whom the line communicates.”

TT Club said the explicit obligation of the master was simply that he shall not load a container for which a verified gross mass is not available. “This does not mean that one with a verified gross mass is guaranteed to be loaded, since that would derogate from the traditional rights of a master,” the insurance specialist added.

Recognising the pivotal nature of the port interface, it noted that the ‘terminal representative’ has been drawn into the new regulation as a key recipient of information for ship stow planning “and, critically, in a joint and several responsibility not to load on board a ship if a verified gross mass is not available”.

It added: “There has been considerable debate as to whether terminals need to position themselves to be able to weigh containers, not least because of the cost of creating appropriate infrastructure, and amending systems and procedures, with uncertain return on investment. In addition there are commonly incidences of containers packed at the port, in which case the terminal activities could include assisting the shipper in producing the verified gross mass.

“The SOLAS amendment places responsibility on national administrations to implement appropriate standards for calibration and ways of certifying. The overtly named parties rely on this to work smoothly and, preferably, consistently on a global basis.”
TT Club said clarity of such processes needed to be matched by consistency in enforcement. “Talk of ‘tolerances’ is disingenuous,” it said. “SOLAS calls for accuracy. Everyone appreciates that some cargo and packing material may be hygroscopic, thereby potentially increasing mass during the journey, but that need not mask fraudulent activity, nor entice over-zealous enforcement.”

It said the UK Marine Guidance Note may be instructive here, stating that enforcement action will only be volunteered where the difference between documented and actual weight exceeds a threshold. TT Club concluded: “It is suggested that key measures of success of the revised SOLAS regulation will include not only safety of containerised movements, but also free movement of boxes through all modes of surface transport, and a shift in behaviour and culture throughout the unit load industry.”

The TT Club says that the abuse of safety data sheets (SDS) for cargo bookings is “uncomfortably frequent” leading to the view that shipping executives feel “surrounded by criminals”.

The following expose is no less pertinent to Customs risk-profilers.

A recent TT Club claim relating to a fire onboard a ship highlighted a number of issues. The insurance expert argues that differing global format standards and the ease of creating “viable” SDS are only serving to make cargo screening more difficult.

What’s really in the box asks the TT Club.  Photo: Port of Hamburg (Credit - Port Strategy)

What’s really in the box asks the TT Club. Photo: Port of Hamburg (Credit – Port Strategy)

In the claim, a cargo was booked, packed, declared and documented by a shipper as ‘Hookah burner (C.Tablets)’. When the ship caught fire at sea, significant costs were incurred by the ship because of mis-declared cargo, which was in fact activated carbon/charcoal.

Worryingly, when this was investigated further, the shipper had produced two safety data sheets – one was correct, but the other suggested that activated carbon was not considered to be a dangerous good.

TT Club argues that the situation is made far more difficult by the lack of consistency between the various governments about when SDS should be reviewed – Australia stipulates every five years, Canada every three and the EU Regulation recommends checking at “regular intervals”.

Peregrine Storrs-Fox, risk management director, TT Club, told Port Strategy: “We’ve identified two [problem]areas – firstly at the point of booking/contracting with a carrier and secondly post event. Conversations with a number of liner shipping companies confirm that the information given at the time of booking/contracting is frequently suspect. In one instance a single SDS had been presented for about 50 different cargoes over a period.”

Although this is an issue between shipper and carrier, which includes forwarders/logistics operators, there is wider issue here for port operators. During an incident, the port may be supplied with SDS in order to respond appropriately – so there is a risk associated with that too.

The advice to freight forwarders, operators and carriers from the Club is to “Be constantly vigilant and question anything that seems strange or suspicious”. The penalties for non-compliance can be severe. Source: PortStrategy.com

confidentialAn interesting and pertinent issue has been raised in the social media area on the ‘confidentiality’ of carrier information submitted to Customs. In this particular regard it relates to the practice of the US Customs and Border Protection Agency. One blogger commented “It’s kind of ironic in the U.S. for example that importers/consignees are required to submit a request to customs to opt-in to keep manifest information confidential.”

CustomsNow, a direct filing solution for US traders relates “As a common practice, importers and consignees may submit a request to US Customs, pursuant to 19 CFR 103.31, to keep manifest information confidential.  Our previous blog post on this topic  includes several tips to ensure these requests result in the broadest degree of confidentiality.”

Recently, importers and consignees who have submitted confidentiality requests have complained to CBP that confidential shipping data — party/shipper/consignee name and address — for ocean freight have nevertheless been disclosed to the public.  After reviewing the matter, Customs has determined that “improper data entry” was the cause.  To avoid this, CBP advises in a recent CSMS publication, when filing e-Manifests in ACE, “the commercial party name fields must ONLY contain commercial party name data.”  Otherwise, “…the name of the party stored in the ACE database is corrupted because it includes address data. This inaccurate party name data fails the confidentiality edits resulting in confidential business information being shared publicly. This inadvertent disclosure is tied directly to the way in which data is transmitted by users.” Additional information can be found in CBP’s CSMS #13-000064.

In South Africa, and I’m sure a great many other countries too, one just has to accept that the Customs authorities will secure such information, because they say its safe. Read the link below – cause for concern.