BTC Inc
by Giulio Prisco, May 10, 2018

Major Car Makers and Tech Firms Launch MOBI, Blockchain Consortium for Driving Data


Car

MOBI, the recently launched Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative, will explore and develop applications of distributed ledger technology (DLT) for a new digital mobility ecosystem that could make transportation safer, more affordable and more widely accessible. 

MOBI, backed by major car makers including BMW, Ford, General Motors and Renault, as well as technology and financial firms, is “creating the operating system of the 'matter net,’” according to the MOBI website.

The consortium will strive to assist businesses and consumers to securely manage their driving data, ride-share and car-share transactions, as well as their vehicle identity and usage information. In a recent report, Financial Times noted that, according to Accenture, MOBI is “‘the first serious attempt’ by the automotive industry to drive scale and set standards in the mobility sector currently dominated by Uber, Lyft and Didi.” 

“Blockchain [technology] and related trust enhancing technologies are poised to redefine the automotive industry and how consumers purchase, insure and use vehicles,” said MOBI chairman and CEO Chris Ballinger, former chief financial officer and director of mobility services at Toyota Research Institute, according to the MOBI press release. “By bringing together automakers, suppliers, startups and government agencies, we can accelerate adoption for the benefit of businesses, consumers and communities.”

Other members of MOBI’s Board of Directors are Ashley Lannquist from Blockchain at Berkeley and David Luce, a veteran technology leader. Dan Harple, CEO of Context Labs; Joseph Lubin, co-founder of Ethereum and founder of ConsenSys; Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Hyperledger; Jamie Burke, CEO of Outlier Ventures; and Zaki Manian, executive director of the Trusted IoT Alliance, are joining MOBI’s Board of Advisors.

“We believe blockchain [technology] will transform the way people and businesses interact, creating new opportunities in mobility,” said Rich Strader, vice president of mobility product solutions at Ford Motor Corporation, per the release. “We look forward to working together with our industry colleagues as part of MOBI to set the standards for the mobility ecosystem of tomorrow.”

The MOBI press release stated that the initiative has been launched to accelerate adoption and to promote standards in DLT and related technologies for the mobility industry and overall ecosystem. The MOBI partners plan to create simple, standard and digital ways of identifying cars, people and trips, paying for mobility services and exchanging and monetizing data.

“Blockchain technology is by essence decentralized, and its full potential needs to be assessed by working in an open ecosystem,” said Sophie Schmidtlin, alliance global director for advanced engineering with Groupe Renault, in the release. “Ultimately, we aim to work together to define future standards and [use cases] that will make an easier everyday life for our customers.”

In addition to Financial Times, the launch of MOBI has been covered by TechCrunch, CNBC and more, emphasizing the participation of major car makers.

"This is a tectonic shift in the tech landscape, that has the potential to disrupt the growth plans of legacy tech into the auto," said Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of digital asset investment firm BKCM, as reported by CNBC.

(It’s worth noting that non-automotive tech giants, including Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, are actively pursuing the connected car market with large investments.)

Besides car makers, the MOBI initiative includes DLT companies and groups that are developing specific DLT platforms. While “MOBI itself is technology and ledger agnostic,” as noted in the press release, it seems plausible that DLT developers consider the initiative as a way to entrench their technology in a rapidly growing industry.

Sachin Lulla, the vice president and partner for IBM’s automotive branch, said that the tech giant is contributing its blockchain consortia expertise to the group. Behlendorf noted that Hyperledger is collaborating with industry leaders to develop blockchain-enabled vehicle data and mobility services applications. And Lubin said that MOBI marks one of the first ConsenSys ventures into the automotive industry.