World’s First Quantum-Secure Cross-border Electronic Trade Document Transaction


The DigiPorts project and work by Professor Julie McCann and Dr Mike Breza has contributed to delivering the world’s first cross-border quantum-secure digital trade transaction.

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, thus delivering a verifiable, secure, and legally recognisable solution for future digital trade transactions.

The successful pilot, orchestrated by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC 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 technology developed at the AESE Laboratory, Imperial College London, led by Prof. McCann and supported by PETRAS 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.

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