ZF, UBS and IBM are jointly to develop the Car eWallet open automotive transaction platform for mobility services. This will use blockchain technology. To its founders, Car eWallet has the potential to change radically the way manufacturers, suppliers and service providers process digital transactions. The objective is to simplify the use of vehicle services.
Equipped with the Car eWallet technology, the vehicle can automatically pay for transactions at the electric vehicle charging station. In effect Car eWallet is a digital assistant in the car which allows secure and convenient payments ‘on the go’ on behalf of the customer. In addition it can perform other tasks, like opening a car’s doors (including the boot or trunk) as well as potentially paying tolls, for parking lots and even parcel delivery.
At its most basic, Car eWallet aims to simplify multiple payment processes for car users. This matters when different systems render charging and payment for electric vehicles hire create an unnecessarily complicated experience for users.
“The trend toward car-sharing and future autonomous vehicles requires, now more than ever, a transaction ecosystem that everyone can use,” explains Dr. Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG. “The Car eWallet technology will reduce risks and costs while dramatically improving convenience for owners and users.”
Car eWallet and the IBM connection
‘Under the hood’, Car eWallet exploits IBM Blockchain technology. It is this which:
- makes it possible to synchronize the information of each participant in the network with a reliable and unchangeable data record
- ensures that users only have access to the information that they are permitted to see and use
- delivers secure transactions almost in real time possible without needing a central instance or a reliable third party.
The open automotive transaction platform for mobility-related services has the potential to radically change e-commerce between manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and customers.
The Car eWallet platform
Car eWallet decided on blockchain technology because it redefines transactions. Its platform is provided through the IBM Cloud and driven by Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, the blockchain framework which is one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by the Linux Foundation.
With this public cloud service platform the partners intend to build a secure blockchain network to can collect fees (as described above).
“The world of mobility is quickly evolving with self-driving vehicles, electric cars and new mobility services having quickly evolved from visionary concepts into reality. Time of great change requires transformational solutions,” said Dirk Wollschlaeger, General Manager IBM Global Automotive, Aerospace and Defense. “Together with UBS and ZF, we are engineering a new mobility platform to redefine how, when and where traditional transactions occur.”
ZF manufactures driveline and chassis technology. It invests in active and passive safety technology. The company has a global workforce of around 137,000 in some 230 locations spread over 40 countries. In 2016, ZF had €35B and invests c 6% of sales in research & development. It is one of the larger automotive suppliers worldwide.
With its technologies, the company is “striving for Vision Zero” – a world of mobility without accidents and emissions. With its broad portfolio, ZF is advancing mobility and services in the automobile, truck and industrial technology sectors. CareWallet fits into the theme that making total transport usage simpler for the customer is a goal.
Veronica Lange, Head of Innovation at UBS adds: “In today’s digitally connected world, no single institution works in isolation. As a leading financial services institution we pursue the development of a new platform that will transform how transactions and payments between vehicles and other machines can be done efficiently and safely.”
What does this mean
Auto manufacturers, technology companies, suppliers and mobility service providers are moving towards driverless cars. To support autonomous driving, however, these vehicles will need some form of digital agent that can:
- independently carry out tasks
- authorize payments (without the owner or user having to be active).
For IBM, adoption of its Blockchain technology is a modest coup. As the underpinning for Car eWallet it will provide a well funded, technologically advanced solution. For UBS Car eWallet is an opportunity to establish a presence in a future of financial transaction processing which will possess far more automation than today.
For ZF, Car eWallet is further proof that the automotive industry must adapt. Electric vehicles are integrated computers on wheels. By comparison internal combustion vehicles are disparate collections of computing arranged to enable driving. Those automotive manufacturers which do not adapt will find themselves left behind. With Car eWallet ZF indicates it has no intention of falling into this trap. (As an aside, ZF chose SAP for Cloud in a difference circumstance.)
All that said, Car eWallet does not sound especially innovative for the customer (even if it may do for ZF and UBS). Is this not what customers should expect, from financial services and car services suppliers?