The Analog Achilles’ Heel in Our Global Trade Ecosystem and the Blockchain Salvation

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What a staggering irony we’re facing! The technology to send a robot to Mars exists, but the $25 trillion global trade industry is still shuffling around four billion pieces of paper (see Bloomberg article “The 4 Billion Pieces of Paper Keeping Global Trade Afloat”). Let that sink in for a moment. We’re navigating the cosmic ocean but drowning in a sea of paper on Earth. It’s as if time has stopped, trapping global trade in a 19th-century bottleneck while the world whirls ahead.

A Fractured Fairytale

Picture this: your cargo, brimming with the fruits of human ingenuity, is on its way from Brazil to Europe. But the real protagonist in this tale is not the cargo; it’s the paper trail it leaves behind. This humble sheet, known as the bill of lading, embarks on its own odyssey — sometimes even taking flights. The swath of paper it begets along the way — verification, insurance, customs — is nothing short of a bureaucratic Hydra. Decapitate one head, two more shall take its place.

The Cost of Paper — More Than Just Trees

Yes, we’re talking about a jaw-dropping 16.4 hours to process a single bill of lading, according to McKinsey. But it’s not just about lost time; it’s about misplaced trust. The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that roughly $50 billion per year in global trade is fraudulent. The paper — so easy to forge — becomes the weapon of choice in a $9 billion swindle over the last decade. And yet, less than 2% of global trade has been digitised. This isn’t a system; it’s a time bomb wrapped in legalese and red tape.

The Blockchain Salvation

Here’s where blockchain struts onto the stage, not as a disruptor but as a saviour. Imagine a ledger so transparent that it illuminates the dark recesses of trade, a ledger that can’t be tampered with. Each transaction forms a block; each block is a beacon of trust. The bill of lading metamorphoses from a piece of paper into a digital asset, fortified with smart contracts that automate the trust, the verification, and the very essence of trade.

Blockchain not only eviscerates the opportunity for fraud but shaves off the inefficiencies that have shackled the industry. It’s a leap, not a step. A leap from vulnerability to security, from opacity to transparency, and from inefficiency to streamlined grace.

The Role of Artificial Intelligence

But why stop at blockchain? If we’re reimagining trade, let’s pull out all the stops. Enter Artificial Intelligence. AI acts as the cerebral cortex to blockchain’s limbic system. While blockchain secures the transaction, AI optimises it. Predictive analytics, real-time monitoring, and data-driven insights — AI can make sense of the noise (from structured and unstructured data), turning raw data into strategic decisions.

The Turning Tide

The UK’s recent Electronic Trade Documents Act is a watershed moment. It’s not just a law; it’s a philosophical shift. Similarly, Singapore and soon France are embracing digital documents as legally binding. They’re not just changing the rules; they’re changing the game.

The NotCentralised Factor

At NotCentralised, we pride ourselves on our ingenuity and focus on innovation. Whether it’s Digital Escrows, Digital Bank Guarantees, Private GPT models or working with Zero-Knowledge Proof technology, we are at that cutting edge. If you’re interested in the types of innovations we’re building here then make sure you get in touch.

Final Thoughts

The transition to a digital-first approach in global trade isn’t just necessary; it’s existential. We’ve been held hostage by a legacy system, teetering on the edge of obsolescence. But remember, every revolution begins with a single act of defiance. Defy the paper, embrace the digital, and let’s write the future in lines of code, not ink.

So, when you’re sipping that Brazilian coffee in the heart of Australia or Europe or Asia, give a nod to the invisible lines of code that made it all possible. Blockchain and AI are more than technologies; they’re the architects of a new world order in trade, and in this new world, trust isn’t just a word; it’s coded into the very fabric of commerce.

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Mark
Monfort

Mark drives innovation with his deep understanding of AI, blockchain, and data technologies. His experience spans over 15 years of contributions to finance, technology, and operational strategy across Australia, Europe, and North America.

In 2021, he transitioned from Head of Data and Technology at a leading Australian accounting firm to startups. Prior to this, he worked in equity and macroeconomic research in the capital markets space.

Mark brings a passion for data and insights to NotCentralised. His understanding of AI and blockchain technology is central to the development of workplace productivity and financial system modernisation products, including SIKE and Layer-C. Mark’s dynamic and solutions-focused methods enable the navigation of complex technological landscapes and new market potentials.

Mark holds an Executive Master’s and a Bachelor of Commerce. He led the creation of the Australian DeFi Association and serves on the advisory board for the Data Science and AI Association of Australia. His commitment to such communities demonstrates his enthusiasm for emerging technologies and vision of positive change through technology adoption.

Nick
Bishop

Nick spearheads product strategy and institutional business development, leveraging a rich background spanning 23 years in capital markets and financial services across the UK, the US, and APAC.

In 2020, Nick transitioned into startups, bringing extensive experience in asset management and corporate advisory from roles including Director, Head of Australian Fixed Income at Abrdn and Managing Director, Head of Corporate Credit at Gresham Partners. His expertise extends to client management across the government and private sectors.

With a First Class degree in Law and Criminology and Chartered Financial Analyst experience since 2002, Nick is known for his energetic and creative approach, quickly appraising business models and identifying market opportunities.

Beyond his role at NotCentralised, Nick actively contributes to multiple startups and SMEs, holding various Board and advisory positions and applying his institutional expertise to early-stage ventures. Nick is fascinated by emerging technologies with significant societal impact and loves to immerse himself in nature.

Arturo
Rodriguez

Arturo leads product development and software engineering, applying over two decades of experience in technology, capital markets, and data science. With his years of programming expertise, Arturo smoothly transitioned into blockchain, AI, and machine learning.

Arturo has built and sold technology startups across Europe, following quant derivatives roles in global investment banks. His prior experience includes data projects for the NHS in the UK, Strategic Technology Advisor at Land Insight, and Senior Advisor to OpenInsight, where he built predictive models for vessel usage in commodity markets.

A mathematics and statistics graduate from Stockholm University, Arturo’s early grounding in logic problems and data manipulation techniques is evident in his practical applications. His work building equity derivative pricing models for Merrill Lynch and Royal Bank of Scotland showcased Arturo’s highly specialised skillset.

Arturo relocated from London to Australia in 2020. Beyond NotCentralised, his passion for technology and industry involvement extends to the Australian DeFi Association, which he co-founded, and regular contributions to the Data Science and AI Association.