One of the first ship registries to advocate the use of electronic certification has started issuing e-certificates to its fleet. Palau International Ship Registry (PISR) has joined a select group of world-class registries now replacing paper certificates with electronic ones.

Panos Kirnidis, CEO of PISR, has been advocating the increasing use of technology in the shipping world and believes there is still work to do in convincing others that the paperless world works in shipping.

“We have been calling ourselves the SMART registry for the past two years and that has given us a head-start in working and developing on technology to make our services work for our ship owners, managers and operators. From the start of October we are issuing e-certificates that are available online, are tamper-proof, able to be verified electronically and most importantly and are recognised as fully accredited paper certificates. This is the way forward but we will also offer paper versions as the industry comes to accept the e-certificate.”

The IMO has been reviewing the use of e-certificates for more than four years and current concerns centre on the acceptance of them by Port State Control (PSC). With the increasing use of blockchain technology in shipping, the verification and trust in e-certificates will undoubtedly be a thing of the past according to Panos Kirnidis.

“Blockchain technology will push the shipping world into a new era and e-certificates will be a part of that expansion. Port State Control authorities will come to accept the use of digital certification because we need to move the industry into the next decade to keep pace with consumer and regulatory demands. There has always been a fear that PSC authorities would be reluctant to accept anything other than paper certifications. The world has moved on; the shipping industry is moving on and so should PSC.”

The push for digital certification will continue to come from far-sighted ship registries and the development of new blockchain solutions will keep the momentum in the industry for change. Panos Kirnidis wants to see greater use of digital technology in an industry that has often been slow to come to terms with changes to operational procedures and regulatory standards.

“It may sound strange that say that we want our peers to join us in embracing digital operations but we want it because it will only strengthen the shipping industry. In many ways it is nice to be ahead of the curve and yet we also appreciate that a unified and strong collection of ship registries can be a positive force in the world economy.”