BMW is entering the blockchain arena in a big way with their collaboration with VeChain, a blockchain startup focused primarily on supply chain management, smart contracts, and financial services.
While BMW has been partnered with VeChain since February 2018, it wasn’t until April 18, 2019, during the annual VeChain Summit in San Francisco, that the fruits of their partnership were revealed.
At the event, Cihan Albay (picture), IT leader at BMW Group Asia’s Tech Office in Singapore, presented the firm’s VerifyCar app, which essentially is a vehicle digital passport on the blockchain.
According to Albay, BMW and VeChain have collaborated to create a digital ledger using the VeChain blockchain. The BMWs are equipped with various sensors that record every interaction with the vehicle, which is then stored with a hash key in the blockchain.
The type of data stored can be anything from changing the battery, replacing a filter, having the annual service, the odometer data, etc. Each car has a SIM card that sends out datasets on a regular basis, which are then verified and stored on the VeChain blockchain.
As put by Albay during the VerifyApp reveal:
“What we tried to do here is to build a digital passport that verifies datasets and allows people to know if what a seller says is really true.”
One solution they’re aiming to provide is ensuring that when a vehicle owner goes to resell their BMW, the vehicle’s complete history is transparent and available to the buyer. In Germany, it’s estimated that 33% of second-hand cars have manipulated odometer readings, equating an average economic impact of 3,000 EUR per car.
Albay says the VerifyApp and VeChain blockchain have already been tested with internal vehicles and are ready for launch. However, he adds that BMW is still determining how they will roll out the product, as they are not sure how their customers will react to everything being forever stored on a blockchain.
Explaining further, he said:
“Blockchain is still a sensitive topic. People in Germany currently don’t know how to react about blockchain especially when they hear that information stored on a blockchain cannot be deleted afterward. We really need to have a look at our business strategy and how to roll out. But we have proven that it works and we are keen to continue further.”