What is the DSI

As part of their promise to set rules and standards in trade, the ICC is developing a new set of digital standards to develop cross-industry digital standards in trade. 

Developed as an independent entity and in order to develop standards and protocols enabling the next digital era in trade the ICC has formalised the Digital Trade Standards Initiative (DSI).

Formerly the Universal Trade Network (UTN), initially developed by Marco Polo, the ICC’s new initiative, will be leading efforts to digitise trade by creating open trade and technology standards to promote interoperability among the numerous blockchain networks and technology platforms already in existence. DSI will be provided with the funding and formal governance structure required to deliver on its goals and maintain growth. In practice, the DSI will serve a similar purpose to that of the WWW (World Wide Web) Consortium or IEFT (Internet Engineering Task Force), the industry bodies that maintain standards and protocols of the Web.


Why does the industry need it?

Today’s trade systems are disconnected, and many are still entirely paper-based. This continues to impose a tremendous amount of friction for all parties involved. It also hampers the ability of all businesses – in particular, SMEs – to expand globally. As a result, the industry is now in search of applications, networks, and platforms that would enable a more connected trade ecosystem. We have already seen a dramatic rise in the number of consortia and industry initiatives focused on creating new connections between the many participants in global trade, which is moving trade in the right direction.

Despite a substantial increase in efforts aimed at overcoming these challenges, there is a fundamental problem with the industry’s current approach. That is, if each initiative builds its network and these networks can’t connect, we will be left with the very same problem we spent a lot of time and money to solve. This then presents us with another challenge: disparate business networks need to be able to talk to one another in order to exchange data reliably, securely, and effortlessly.

The DSI will play a critical role in ensuring the industry can overcome the interoperability challenge, by defining the open standards and protocols that these systems and the software running on them can leverage to communicate with one another across different networks and service providers.

Digital Trade Standards Initiative (DSI)


The core focus of the DSI is to create and promote the adoption of standards and protocols that will allow for different DLT-powered trade platforms to communicate seamlessly and facilitate the connectivity between these trade platforms and non-DLT networks

The DSI is a fully inclusive industry initiative which will include a wide range of actors, including logistics companies, insurance providers, corporates, technology and fintech firms and B2B networks, with the goal of being also inclusive for other distributed networks to join and for all parties involved in global trade to adopt these standards.