This week on Thursday and Friday in Munich BMW Group will host the first European meeting of the mobility industry group MOBI which boasts more than a hundred members. The event will explore developing standards for the sector. BMW is one of the founding members of MOBI where other car companies include Ford, GM and Renault.
The German auto manufacturer is upbeat about blockchain’s potential. “The hype surrounding blockchain has died down, and it is even met with occasional scepticism now,” said Andre Luckow, who leads blockchain technology at BMW Group. “We are convinced, however, that blockchains represent a real opportunity and will eventually break up the established, centralised market by making it possible to create more decentralised platforms and so give consumers more control over their data.”
“Plus, secure transactions can also be facilitated without intermediaries, paving the way for trialing new business models.”
Trying it out
In the used car business there’s an element of trust about a car’s mileage. Although it may be hard to tamper with odometers, if the mileage is logged on a blockchain, it makes it pretty impossible. Additionally when cars are leased the mileage has a huge impact on the residual value. So that data is useful for an auto company’s financing arm. Last year BMW ran a proof of concept for its VerifyCar app to track a vehicle’s mileage on a blockchain and share it with others who need to know.
“Added to this, blockchains enable us to improve cross-organisational and cross-industry collaboration by increasing efficiency and transparency,” continued Luckow. A common blockchain application is to track components and parts in a supply chain. There’s potential for traceability, security by verifying the parts are original, as well as operational efficiency.
BMW ran a proof of concept and a pilot at its Spartanburg plant in the USA. The project will run through to the end of the year, and subject to the results could be extended.
Two blockchain startups have worked with the BMW Startup Garage programme. DOVU is the mobility and rewards startup which built a mileage logging app for BMW’s leasing arm. This may be separate to VerifyCar. And VeChain has been working with BMW for a year on supply chains.
And in the U.S., BMW Group Financial Services has a separate program and selected blockchain startups Supermoney and Bloom.
This week the focus at the MOBI event is on standards. “It is essential to create digital ecosystems that share an infrastructure and use applications with agreed standards and control models,” explained Andre Luckow. “Common, open standards and ecosystems are the only way to speed up the development and adoption of blockchain systems.”
“In view of the rapid spread of mobility services and the constantly growing number of connected and, in future, autonomously driving cars, blockchains and distributed ledger technologies offer an ideal solution for processing, storing and sharing data securely, transparently and efficiently,” said Chris Ballinger, founder and CEO of MOBI.
“Our vision is to use blockchain technology to help us shape a future of mobility that is greener, safer, and improves the quality of life in our cities. Clearly defined, universal standards are indispensable for achieving this. We are delighted to be driving this new technology forward in partnership with the BMW Group.”