UPS has joined the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance, stating that it sees a need to create industry standards and protocols to enable blockchain platforms to operate together with established technologies.

BiTA is dedicated to setting standards for blockchain applications developed for transportation. The alliance was formed by tech and transportation executives to create a forum for promotion and education, and to encourage development and adaptation of blockchain applications within the transportation and logistics industries.

Blockchain is a digital database using "blocks" inked and secured by cryptography that can be used to keep records of any information or assets. This includes physical assets, like transportation containers, or virtual assets, like digital currencies. It allows all companies tied into a system to see and use the same data on these transactions, allowing for greater efficiencies throughout the logistics chain.

UPS wants to leverage blockchain technology to facilitate execution and visibility of trusted transactions between UPS, its customers, and government customs agencies. In the future, blockchain standards and intercompany collaboration will support the logistics strategies that enable UPS customers to participate in global trade and finance, according to UPS.

“Blockchain has multiple applications in the logistics industry, especially related to supply chains, insurance, payments, audits and customs brokerage,” said Linda Weakland, UPS director of enterprise architecture and innovation. “The technology has the potential to increase transparency and efficiency among shippers, carriers, brokers, consumers, vendors and other supply chain stakeholders.”

UPS is exploring blockchain applications in its customs brokerage business to help the company digitize transactions. Blockchain technology would help by improving transaction accuracy and by replacing existing paper-heavy and manual processes. The process would be highly secure and would generate valuable efficiencies for shippers who rely on UPS for customs brokerage, according to the company.

More than 300 companies have applied to BiTA or membership.