Could Blockchain Transform the Transportation Industry?


Blockchain technology isn’t just for cyptocurrency like Bitcoin. It’s simply an audit trail that’s cropping up everywhere because of its distributed nature and applicability to a variety of use cases. Like machine learning, it’s a tool that developers can use to enhance existing applications and allow for the creation of new features and applications.

Essentially, a blockchain is a set of records maintained in a distributed database where each new entry is added to the audit trail so that it can’t be modified after being incorporated into the blockchain. Encryption and digital signatures are used to make sure that any modifications would be detected, and the distributed nature of the system means that the data is stored in multiple locations. All of this is important for monetary-related transactions, and it’s a vital factor in other applications.

Volareo is using blockchain technology for music distribution. It will be used to handle micropayments so that musicians could be paid when users listen to their music. Listeners could even tip a musician directly if they really like a song. It could even involve purchasing a song.

Granted, much of this is done with existing streaming music systems, but not to the granularity or transparency possible using blockchains and microtransactions. Blockchains can literally be built into the contracts, which allows software to manage transactions that will be logged in a blockchain.

Application Possibilities

The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) non-profit foundation is exploring how blockchain technology can be used in the transportation market. Applications include vehicle identity, history and data tracking, supply-chain tracking including replacement parts, autonomous machine and vehicle payments, secure mobility ecosystem commerce, usage-based mobility pricing, taxes, and payments.

Rich Strader, Vice President, Mobility Product Solutions, Ford Motor Corp., notes “We believe blockchain will transform the way people and businesses interact, creating new opportunities in mobility. We look forward to working together with our industry colleagues as part of MOBI to set the standards for the mobility ecosystem of tomorrow.”

Sachin Lulla, Vice President & Partner, IBM Automotive Industry Leader says “A set of blockchain standards for the mobility industry will allow auto, infrastructure, and service providers to efficiently communicate and transact with each other. Bringing the industry together and building interoperable blockchain networks is key to helping the automotive industry unleash the potential of blockchain. IBM is contributing our expertise in building blockchain consortia to the group to help accelerate development and ultimately benefit consumers.”

Blockchain technology is available from many sources, including open-source solutions. Challenges still exist for many applications ranging from scalability to server management. Blockchain solutions are usable now depending on the application and infrastructure. Initiatives like MOBI will eventually lead to industry-wide solutions that can be shared.