While nobody has forgotten about cryptocurrencies, they are definitely taking a bit of a backseat as their underlying technology, the blockchain, comes more into focus. Many are realizing that this decentralized network that was introduced along with Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, has use cases and value propositions that far exceed its role accounting for digital currency transactions.
It’s this sentiment that led Steven Johnson to write in The New York Times Magazine that “The Bitcoin bubble may ultimately turn out to be a distraction from the true significance of the blockchain.” To some, this is an extraordinary statement given Bitcoin’s peak market cap of more than $200 billion; however, the reality is that the blockchain’s use cases are so profound and its network so adaptable that it creates cascading value across virtually every industry.
To facilitate blockchain adoption, several of the world’s most prominent car companies are coming together to develop standards and provide resources for initiatives relevant to their industry. In early May, BMW, General Motors, Ford, and others formed the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), a nonprofit collective focused on making “mobility services more efficient, affordable, greener, safer, and less congested by promoting standards and accelerating adoption of blockchain, distributed ledger, and related technologies.”
MOBI views blockchain technology as a differentiator in the transportation industry. It has implications for the complicated and costly automaker supply chain to existential user-generated costs regarding usage or pollution taxes. The broad array of use cases is reflected in the diverse partners participating in the project.
In addition to the headliners from the auto industry, MOBI includes tech giant IBM and consulting juggernaut Accenture. Both companies made significant pivots toward blockchain technology, and their participation both reflects their belief in the technology’s future and their desire to be a part of helping it come to fruition.
Interestingly, the collective isn’t limited just to industry titans. A collection of blockchain startups including ShareRing and IOTA are also a part of this burgeoning imitative. Both companies feature ancillary services related to the auto industry, and their involvement reflects MOBI’s desire to see blockchain technology integrated throughout the auto ecosystem, not just at the very top.
ShareRing, a blockchain startup focused on the sharing economy, is an interesting collaborator for MOBI. ShareRing intends to serve as the Amazon of the sharing economy in the sense that it provides a unified platform for an otherwise disparate ecosystem. Using their mobile app, anyone can identify opportunities, pay for services, and provide ratings and feedback.
Its connection to MOBI and the auto industry is found in the company’s most obvious use case. ShareRings’s founders have their origins in the car sharing business, and a significant portion of the sharing economy deals with transportation. Uber and Lyft are two of the most recognizable names associated with this ecosystem, and they are both transportation driven. Their decentralized marketplace reflects many of the blockchain’s most lauded features, and these markets should proliferate as they achieve broader adoption.
Meanwhile, IOTA is building blockchain protocols that enable the Internet of Things (IoT) to thrive in the blockchain era. Increasingly, IoT includes self-driving car initiatives that can be secured and powered by blockchain technology. IOTA’s technological contributions can help MOBI’s partners more quickly make the driverless car a tangible, safe reality.
Ultimately, this new collective is a well-funded, well-managed group that is ripe with talent and ambition. It’s headed by Chris Ballinger, a former C-suite executive at the Toyota Research Institute, and their advisory board includes a plethora of prominent blockchain leaders. Although the auto industry is mostly known for competition and brand loyalty, when it comes to blockchain technology, these companies are coming together to make sure that everyone can reap the benefits of this transformative, next-generation tech.
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