While we can safely say that 2020 did not go the way anyone had planned, one thing that has remained constant is our team’s dedication to innovation when looking for solutions to the major issues that impact the maritime industry and its associated supply chains.
As the year winds down, we want to take a moment to look back at everything that has happened since last January, from new industry partnerships, awards, a change in working conditions, new employee initiatives and much more.
- Pole Star joins Marco Polo Network: In January 2020, we partnered with global trade finance technology provider TradeIX, to bring our multi award winning PurpleTRAC regulatory technologies to the Marco Polo Network. Making PurpleTRAC available on the R3 Corda network has provided a single point solution for automated vessel sanctions screening, vessel tracking and risk management and serves to enable the advancement of cross-border trade compliance, while facilitating the streamlining of maritime transactional processes and the securing of sensitive data. This partnership has continued to blossom, and we will be announcing developments to our collaborative solutions in Q1 2021.
- Pole Star re-certified for ISO 9001 & 27001: Pole Star was re-certified for the ISO 27001 certification (information security management) for our whole organisation and the ISO 9001 certification (quality management) for our LRIT Certification & Testing services.
- Shortlisted for GTR Leaders in Trade Award: Pole Star & our alliance partner Dow Jones Risk & Compliance were shortlisted for the GTR Leaders in Trade Award for Best Technology Collaboration after impressing industry judges with our joint-solution RiskCenter Trade Compliance.
- Pole Star USA Opens: We opened the doors of our newest office in St. Petersburg, Florida, improving the delivery and support of our services, and enabling the expansion of the services we offer, with a larger team dedicated to focussing on our U.S. clients. Our US team has grown to just under 20 people since February.
- Envoy Group & Pole Star partner: This partnership has enabled Envoy’s customers to keep good governance by digitally tracking the places, organisations and entities they are trading with. It allows companies to manage regulatory and reputational risk to ensure that all transactions are compliant, while solving financial crime compliance challenges by offering complete vessel screening and tracking.
- US Regulators Zoom in on Maritime Industry: In March 2020, details were released relating to a forthcoming advisory that would see the U.S. State Department and the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) begin to focus on all areas of maritime trade and shipping. This game-changing advisory went on to be released in May 2020.
- COVID-19 Pandemic: In March, the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic became obvious. Our London office began WFH, as well as all our other international offices. We continue to monitor the global situation, along with our employees’ needs to ensure safe and compliant working conditions.
- PSP Tracking for Android: The PSP Tracking mobile app was initially released in February 2019 for iPhone only. Since its release, the Pole Star team worked on delivering an Android version to cater to all our clients.The app will provide all Pole Star Platform customers with greater working flexibility by integrating vessel tracking services from their central desktop application on smartphones and tablet devices.
- US Regulators Issue New Guidance to Address Illicit Shipping and Sanctions Evasion Practices: Following over a year of consultations with a broad swathe of the maritime industry, the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Treasury, and the U.S. Coast Guard issued the long-awaited sanctions advisory for the maritime industry. The advisory reflects the U.S. government’s commitment to work with the private sector to prevent illicit shipping and sanctions evasion.
- Supporting the Maritime Industry with Regulatory Compliance: This advisory is one of the most holistic regulatory documents to come out regarding the maritime industry. It raised well known weaknesses that have long been used by those seeking to flout sanctions programs. With our suite of solutions, we’ve been engaging with the industry to assist in ensuring sanctions compliance across all aspects of the maritime supply chain.
- New brand & website is launched: We launched our new branding and website, reflecting our evolution from the first company to track vessels into our current position as a leading maritime data provider facilitating decision-making across the large and diverse maritime framework. Data and technology are at the core of what we do at Pole Star, and we want to ensure that the message to our customers and the markets we serve is clear; we are here to provide the essential data to empower their real-world decision making.
- OFSI Advisory Released: Following in OFAC’s footsteps, the UK’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) released a guidance document focussing on financial sanctions guidance for those operating within the maritime shipping sector.
- Bill of Lading Verification (BLV) Module Launched on PurpleTRAC: The release of our new BLV module enables PurpleTRAC customers to significantly extend their sanctions risk and compliance investigations. By simply entering the bill of lading number of a container shipment, PurpleTRAC will confirm whether this is a recognised asset within the database of carriers currently supported and then provide a list of all the vessels involved in the delivery of this BL, all ports visited, and all carriers involved in the transaction.
- ESG Webinar: Following on our partnership announcement at the start of 2020, Pole Star, CarbonChain, and the Marco Polo Network hosted a webinar exploring the latest technology collaboration in sustainable finance and how it can help enhance ESG performance within the maritime industry. With ESG performance now beginning to impact shipping companies’ abilities to access financing, this presents a great opportunity for companies to access innovative trade finance programs that provide a direct link between financing terms and ESG performance set against specific maritime industry criteria. We will be releasing an announcement around this in Q1 2021.
- ISAT M2M End-of-Life Extension: Since last year, we have been assisting the maritime industry with the upcoming IsatM2M End of Life. In October, Inmarsat announced that the IsatM2M satellite service has been extended for an additional year, with the new end-of-life date set as 31 December 2021. ORBCOMM have now provided further information stating that the IsatM2M service for the Pacific Ocean Region (POR) is excluded from this extension, and service for this region will end on 31 December 2020.
Despite challenging circumstances this year, we have expanded our global reach, client base, and associated revenues to the extent that we are pleased to report again, following previous year trends, that we have exceeded our targets and achieved 16% ARR growth during FY 2019-20, with a 17% increase in operating profit.
Our goal to advance technologies for a safer, more secure, and sustainable world is more important than ever today, with our teams working tirelessly to digitise and simplify complex maritime processes, ultimately helping maritime trade navigate these stormy seas.