Consortium delivers cross-border quantum-secure digital trade transaction

Source: ICC UK

An international consortium of industry and technical experts, supported by government, business and other organisations have completed the world’s first quantum-secure cross-border electronic trade document transaction, delivering a verifiable, secure, and legally recognisable solution for future digital trade transactions.

This significant step forward in the journey to fully digital international trade will make international trade cheaper, simpler, faster and more sustainable.

The successful pilot, orchestrated by the International Chamber of Commerce UK and Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation (C4DTI) on behalf of the UK Government, and supported by the Singapore Government agency the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), saw sample building products transported from the United Kingdom to Singapore using traditional paper documentation, but also electronic trade documents, including an electronic bill of lading (eBL) and a digital promissory note, simultaneously reconciled using a Distributed Ledger (DLT) in both jurisdictions.

IMDA’s TradeTrust framework, which is fully compliant with the UN’s Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR) and allows end users to transfer, indorse, and verify documents and effect title transfer across different digital platforms seamlessly, was utilised in the eBL flow of the transaction.

A quantum-secure ‘seal’ was placed around the electronic trade documents using Arqit’s symmetric key agreement and quantum notary technology, ensuring that the documents were protected from current and future cyber threats including the risk posed by quantum computers.

The shipment was live tracked, and the condition of its contents was monitored throughout the journey using low-cost, secure IoT (Internet of Things) technology developed at the AESE Laboratory, Imperial College London, led by Professor Julie McCann and supported by the PETRAS National Centre of Excellence for IoT Systems Cyber Security and the UKRI Impact Initiative Account (UKRI-IAA). A tamper resistant digital record of the location and state of the physical goods was minted onto an NFT by Database of Native Assets Ltd (DNA), using the IoT sensors and Kadena blockchain technology to provide additional security for the shipment in transit.

The pre-existing shipment, used as a basis for the pilot, was dispatched by water management systems component manufacturer Permavoid Limited (part of the Genuit Group) to Singapore. Specialist consultancy AG Midgley Ltd established and chaired the consortium from inception to completion, with legal guidance and advice being provided by energy and transport law firm Watson Farley & Williams LLP (“WFW”) in London and Singapore in association with Wong Tan & Molly Lim LLC (“WTL”).

As part of the project, the use of the electronic trade documents is the subject of legal review by WFW who has advised that the eBL and digital promissory note used in the project satisfy the requirements of the UK’s Electronic Trade Documents Bill as regards possession and transfer of possession. WFW Singapore in association with WTL will advise on the application of Singapore’s Electronic Trade Act. Both pieces of legislation are based on the UN’s MLETR being enacted globally.

Nick Davies, Director of the Centre for Digital Trade and Innovation, said:
“C4DTI, part of the International Chamber of Commerce UK, was very pleased to be part of this ground-breaking pilot and is grateful to all the consortium members who volunteered to be part of it and base it on a real-world international transaction. It provides a great example of how digitalisation can remove friction from trade between the UK and Singapore and is a practical demonstration of the improvements that are achievable under the terms of MLETR-type legislation and the negotiation of good, effective Digital Economy Agreements, such as that agreed between the UK and Singapore.”

Loh Sin Yong, Director of TradeTrust, IMDA, said:
“As part of Singapore’s partnership with the UK to promote adoption of cross-border paperless trade, we are excited to support this industry-driven pilot. We believe the pilot has helped to demonstrate how the TradeTrust framework is able to aid solutions to be compliant with MLETR requirements for Electronic Transferable Records such as electronic Bills of Lading. IMDA will continue to work with public and private sector to help push for the digitalisation of global trade.”

Dr Barry Childe, Arqit CIO and Co-Founder, said:
“Distributed ledger technology enables organisations to create unique, referenceable and transferable digital finance instruments, which offer significant advantages over paper-based alternatives. Arqit was proud to be the lead partner in this important project and to use our first-of-its-kind quantum-safe encryption technology to secure the transaction. The MLETR being enacted internationally ushers in an era of digital transformation in financial services, but you cannot invest in long term transformation that is not secure against quantum attack. We believe that Arqit alone can deliver that.”

Douglas Jakobi, DNA Co-Founder, said:
“DNA is proud to collaborate with Arqit and Imperial College London on the ICC UK and C4DTI pilot program, and to have built a cutting edge end-to-end solution that will revolutionise international trade. At DNA, we make the power & security of the blockchain accessible to mainstream use cases with a simple to use tokenisation platform that bridges the physical and digital worlds.”

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