It’s been seven months since the Mobility Open Blockchain initiative was launched (MOBI). The goal of the association which started out with 30 members was to make transport safer, affordable and widely available. Obviously, this is rather ambitious but the new possibilities unlocked by blockchain technology made it a realistic objective for the members.
Legacy companies such as IBM and Bosch as well as start-ups and initiatives like Fetch.ai, HyperLedger, and IOTA all came together under this umbrella, signaling the transformative potential the new technology holds. Other members include Ford, BMW, Renault, and General Motors.
By focussing solely on the transport sector, MOBI also marked a significant shift from the focus on finance that was erstwhile associated with blockchain. MOBI was envisioned to cover areas such as data tracking, pricing, supply management as well as emerging areas such as self-driving vehicles and ride sharing.
Ever since its potential was discovered, blockchain has attracted a lot of interest in this area, and now every major car company is involved one way or the other. It is no surprise. There is bound to be a lot of disruption in the industry in the near future and as many companies know; it is either you adapt, or you are swept away.
Why everyone wants in
Toyota, for instance, is involved in a research that will pool data from autonomous vehicles as well as developing tools for ride sharing. This will also go into developing customized insurance products based on usage for users who opt-in. The initiative is being undertaken in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab. Other blockchain startups like BigChainDB are helping Toyota come up with the best architecture for the job.
We are talking of millions of vehicles and other devices talking to each other in a very dynamic environment. These interactions need to happen in a very secure environment otherwise there will be serious disruptions and even risks to human life. A highly permissioned blockchain network meets these needs and the choice is very clear for players in this space.
As MOBI’s CEO and Chairman Chris Ballinger says, blockchain will redefine the way consumers purchase, use and ensure their vehicles. Others are using it for parts authentication. IBM is, for instance, testing a mobile payment system that will see cars automatically authorizing payments.
Manufacturers like Renault is already piloting blockchain for a digitized car maintenance program.
Part of the reason for the creation of MOBI is, of course, to accelerate adoption and bring benefits to consumers and businesses faster. It means that players read from the same script and minimizes duplication of efforts or development of parallel incompatible systems.