BMW, Ford, General Motors, and Renault have been announced as founding members of the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) which aims to apply blockchain tech in the automotive sector. Alongside the automotive giants are car-parts manufacturers Bosch and ZF as well as major companies like Accenture and IBM and blockchain industry groups such as Consensys and Hyperledger.
MOBI says it aims to create common standards of using blockchain in the industry and wants to drive for a new digital mobility ecosystem, that ranges from ride-sharing to self-driving vehicles and everything in between. The consortium won’t be backing a particular type of distributed ledger, but will rather focus on creating APIs to enable payments and data-sharing between cars.
Decentralized business network necessary
Chris Ballinger, the chairman, and CEO of MOBI said that he realized the need for the group after conducting several blockchain proofs-of-concept with startups as part of his previous role at Toyota. He says to move such initiatives forward a decentralized business network is essential.
"You really have to have common standards and common ways for cars to communicate, to identify themselves and make payments," Ballinger told CoinDesk. “But if each auto company is trying to develop its own car wallets or its own way of paying tolls, or providing a ride-sharing service, it just doesn't work; it's the Tower of Babel,” he continued.
Industry commits to blockchain future
MOBI is off to a strong start, it has a founding members group that account for 70 percent of global car production. In addition to this, there are 30 other partners. Dan Harple, the CEO of Context Labs, who is working closely with Ballinger, said MOBI’s first task will be to establish a "minimum viable ecosystem" for gaining network effect.
The consortium reports it will start its work by forming project teams in areas such as ridesharing, vehicle identity and data tracking, mobility ecosystem commerce; and data markets for autonomous and human driving. It’s easy to see why the big players are eager to sign onto the consortium.
More and more data is being collected around cars and the consortium will help that data stay within the industry. “Everybody wants that data. Apple has their car play, Amazon is putting Alexa in the car, Microsoft Azure has their car system, Google's got theirs," Ballinger told.
"The car is the fourth screen and the next big data battleground. It's a trillion-dollar prize,” he added. One area where huge amounts of data is being gathered is inside the car by users.
Many commuters spend several hours a day inside the car, where they are often also using the internet, whether to play music or ask an assistant for directions. Ballinger says this data needs to have property rights.
"The opportunity here is if you can create property rights, then that data can eventually become self-sovereign and owned by whoever generates it - whether that's an individual owner, a fleet operator, a city government perhaps operating traffic lights, whatever," he said.
MOBI's partners announcing today include: Accenture, Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Services USA, BigChainDB, BMW, Dashride, Deon Digital AG, Chronicled, ContextLabs, Crypto Valley Association, Foam, General Motors, Hyperledger, IBM, IOTA, MotionWerk, NuCypher, Oaken Innovation, Ocean Protocol, Renault, ShareRing, Shift, Spherical Analytics, Trusted Internet of Things Alliance, Vasily, Xain, and ZF Friedrichshafen AG.