Today, Japanese automaker Toyota announced its Toyota Blockchain Lab plans to run trials with external partner companies. The new collaboration focus follows internal group testing, which involves six Toyota companies.
Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Financial Services Corporation launched Toyota Blockchain Lab in April 2019. The automaker said it aims to become a ‘Mobility Company’. This initiative is in addition to its ‘Woven City’ smart city project.
The Lab has four focus areas, with one of the biggest being identity. After the announcement, BUIDL a blockchain startup owned by Securitize, provided some details about its work with the Toyota Blockchain Lab.
In the past, customers needed to sign up and verify themselves for each platform or service they use, which can be time consuming and costly. This could be avoided through decentralization, which would involve verifying the identity of an individual or company once and then enable the data to be securely shared in a permissioned fashion.
This also reduces the risk of hacks, which are more likely with centralized stores of personal information.
A second use case relates to the vehicles themselves and the ability to accumulate data about the car throughout it’s life. An example is if a car is serviced or repaired, the transaction might be tracked by both a dealer and an insurance company. By using blockchain, this data could be shared. So the types of data stored might include ownership, mileage and repair data, which in turn could enable a rolling real-time valuation for the car.
Additionally, there’s potential for new applications, including vehicle transactions for tolls, parking or electric charging. Other mobility applications include car sharing.
The next use case is supply chain. This encompasses both the supply chain for Toyota as a manufacturer but also in the other direction, where it supplies cars and parts to dealers and service companies. As an example, a consumer might be able to verify that something is a genuine Toyota part.
And finally, Toyota highlighted what it refers to as ‘value digitalization’. The car’s ownership could be tokenized, and this data could also be used for leases and contract hire agreements.
Going forward, the company was keen to emphasize plans to collaborate with partners on blockchain projects.
Companies that are part of the Toyota Group have previously trialed blockchain. Earlier this year, Toyota Leasing (Thailand) issued a corporate bond using the Thai Bond Market Association’s blockchain platform.
Toyota is working with the University of Tokyo and renewables firm TRENDE to study blockchain-based electricity trading, using car batteries to store excess power. And on the marketing front, the auto manufacturer has been involved in experiments for tracking digital ads.