Automotive

ZF, UBS and IBM bring blockchain to in-vehicle payments

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The announcements are coming thick and fast at Frankfurt’s Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (IAA) this week. Today, IBM revealed an exciting project in collaboration with ZF Friedrichshafen AG and UBS: to develop the first blockchain-based automotive transaction platform for mobility services. This shared ledger technology will enable secure and transparent in-vehicle payments, so that motorists can pay for tolls, parking, car sharing and eBattery charging on the go.

The announcement comes amid a backdrop of widespread excitement about the potential for self-driving cars and fully autonomous vehicles. An important part of achieving this vision is the development of a reliable, autonomous agent that will enable cars to respond to their environment, navigate routes and perform diagnostic checks without human input. It’s a big ask. However, the new transaction platform from ZF, UBS and IBM will be just such an agent (insofar as the ecommerce side of things is concerned), and as such represents an important step toward complete automotive autonomy.

Where it all began: Car eWallet

Earlier this year, ZF and UBS unveiled Car eWallet – a promising system that allows its users to make cashless, on-the-go payments for highway tolls, parking and electric charging. IBM’s contribution to the consortium will be to provide a way to synchronize and store information from each network participant in a safe record that only they can access. This capability will transform ecommerce in vehicles by allowing different institutions to connect digitally without fear of security compromise, and it also will create new opportunities for automotive manufacturers and service providers.

ZF Car-eWallet

How does it work?

The platform is built on IBM Blockchain and delivered via IBM Cloud. The power source behind it all is Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, one of the projects to come out of Hyperledger – a collaborative effort to advance and share blockchain technology across multiple industries, and of which IBM was an early member.

ZF, UBS and IBM engineers co-designed a blockchain that will give consumers access to a new in-vehicle transaction system. This means users can pay for electric charging on the go, collect fees from temporary users at car-sharing portals, and keep a digital record of their vehicle’s maintenance history to help support warranty claims and prevent fraud in the used-car market.

By registering for IBM Blockchain, automotive manufacturers and service providers can securely share information and offer drivers new ways to pay for services like parking, in-car delivery or charging.

Continue your journey

If you’re curious to see the new platform in action, you’re in luck: ZF will be demonstrating it on 12th-15th September at the IAA New Mobility World in Frankfurt. You can find them at their booth, 17B.

Meanwhile, if you want to find out more about the IAA and IBM Blockchain, you might find these additional resources useful:

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