Max Ward is the CEO of OEL Foundation, a non-profit organization providing governance and resources for the development of the Open Enterprise Logistics blockchain ecosystem.
1) Could you please tell us about yourself?
I have spent over 13 years in Asia, most of that doing regional logistics sales for multi-national corporations such as DHL. I had some early Silicon Valley time with two start-ups and always dreamed of creating my own company, fusing technology to make the logistics industry more open and transparent.
2) What is the OEL Foundation and what relationship does it have to Openport?
We decided that OpenPort should not own the protocol, to attain maximum potential value to the industry. Instead, it should be open to all logistics companies through a membership program, and with open source access to its core. OpenPort uses this protocol but it can be accessed by many parties. OpenPort is a member of the foundation but new members are joining every day.
3) What inspired you to start building blockchain-based decentralized infrastructure for the logistics industry?
The simple case of electronic proof of delivery (POD) which we had been working to digitize. If there are two competing ePOD, one digital and one validated by a decentralized network, the ‘blockchain ePOD’ will have more trust. So, it just seemed we need to build it or risk obsolescence – OpenPort wants to stay ahead of the curve so we went fully into Blockchain. Increasingly we are not alone in the realization that a single source of truth for the supply chain must be decentralized.
4) What are some of the problems you see in the logistics and transportation industry currently?
Opacity resulting in excessive costs and underlying inefficiency. Sub-contracting creating layers of data based on paper and excel spreadsheets. This means cash flow doesn’t happen as it should – driving layers of additional cost in a trillion USD industry.
Ideally, any large shipper should be able to contract directly with an owner of a few dozen trucks and reach the ideal blend of cost and service without un-necessary intermediaries.
5) How will OEL Foundation affect the logistics and transportation industry and how will it affect all the players involved such as freight brokers, freight forwarders, and shippers?
What changes ‘nice to have’ features of the foundation protocol to ‘must have’ is the reduced risk/cost of invoicing and supply chain finance. I believe this is what will move the dial on adoption of blockchain technology products in the logistics industry.
Shippers can improve cash collection and reduce costs. Freight forwarders and domestic 3PLs can better manage sub-contracting and improve their working capital. Brokers, however, we believe, will increasingly be bypassed by digital platforms that directly connect shippers and transporters.
6) How does blockchain technology help the OEL Foundation accomplish this?
Decentralized ledger technology helps to create the single source of truth in the supply chain, and smart contracts are used to validate the logic underlying basic decisions.
Tokenization of data sharing rewards (micro-incentives) and the audit trail that follows from that are a third unique value in Blockchain.
An example of this is the reduced cost of capital from banks and liquidity providers, for lower costs than could be achieved without blockchain. Already we see real demand for this ‘factoring on the blockchain’ service.
7) Can you tell us more about the technology and components of OEL ecosystem that make it function? What are the differences between the OEL platform, OEL Protocol, and OEL Network?
The protocol is the validation of consensus and the means to achieve this, whereas the network for us is the nodes that provide that validation. Ideally members. The platform is the total of these and other components including the libraries and dApps for common logistics use cases, ePOD, accessorial charge calculation, etc.
8) How will the function and utility of your token be built into the things you’re developing such as Transportation Management Software (TMS), ePOD’s, and other dApps?
The token will be required to power the application. TMS and ePOD will be accessible via fiat SaaS fees, but not those dApps that are powered by the protocol. So, for non-blockchain work, this is a legacy pricing model, but to achieve the benefits of decentralization and consensus via the protocol’s main net, the token must be used. eWallets for tokenized micro-incentive handling are already added to our current ePOD apps and this is being enhanced for optimal driver usability.
9) Given the legal implications associated with Bills of Lading and POD’s in the event of a dispute, loss, damage, or unreasonable delay, do you know if non-physical records of these documents, recorded solely on the blockchain, will be held up in a court of law if necessary?
This varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Increasingly many countries from UAE To Philippines are accepting digital documents including those on a decentralized platform as accepted record.
But the important element is that payment in part or full can now be made on the blockchain record. For example, in Philippines we are starting with 80% and soon will move to 100% of the payment. This means that the paper records start to become redundant and eventually will no longer be required, once digital standards are accepted for the purposes of audit. Some companies are already sending paper records straight to the warehouse for audit purpose only, and managing their business on digital.
10) How much do you intend to raise in the OEL Foundation Token Sale and what are the steps for contributing?
We have started pre-sale. Individuals, general investors and logistics companies who are interested can join our telegram and PM for pre-sale participation. Visit Oel.foundation has more information.
11) What were some of the biggest challenges you encountered while working to launch your ICO?
The tough part has been working to take OpenPort public at the same time. There is significant retail investor interest in public blockchain companies with revenues, so we believe this is a powerful path when linked with the open source foundation. Now, this model is providing the resources to support execution as well as promotion for the foundation and ICO.
12) What’s going to happen to theOEL Foundation after the token sale concludes and what where do you see things in 5 years?
OEL will be the preferred protocol and enterprise architecture for logistics companies around the world, with low cost access to the power of blockchain and industry specific customisation.
In 5 years we should see widespread adoption of blockchain technologies in the supply chain – this should be relatively seamless for users (with increased use of tokens) but integral for the way enterprises including banks assess risk and provide liquidity. Traditional banking may be more disrupted than logistics intermediaries as blockchain enables new players to provide liquidity to holders of any collateralized asset (blockchain records of goods delivered, and the transport services for that delivery).
13) What are your marketing and sales strategies to achieve that?
We will be doing more and more marketing in the weeks and months ahead to promote the foundation. Leveraging partners and alliances is a great feature of the blockchain world – we will market our own alliance and relationships with some established institutions and brands.
Our own community is growing, but the theme here is to blend content with usable product to make the community really live and expand.
14) Do you have more information for our readers?
Our new blockchain liquidity product in Philippines powered by Unionbank and Acudeen, is now live and driving improved liquidity to truckers. New liquidity providers and markets for this product will be announced soon. We are taking this in some exciting direction, all the way to point of sale and to individual drivers.