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BMW, Ford, General Motors (GM), and Renault have become part of the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), a new group that aims to leverage blockchain technology for cars. The use cases will range from autonomous payments to supply chain. MOBI, which was launched on Wednesday, currently includes about 30 companies, with IBM, Bosch, and Blockchain at Berkeley acting as founding members.

The group seeks to accelerate blockchain adoption and ensure safer, greener, and more affordable mobility. According to MOBI’s website, the use cases the group will focus on include the following:

  • Digital identity and history
  • Location in space and time
  • Supply chain
  • Congestion fees
  • Autonomous machine payments
  • Mobility commerce platform
  • Driving data markets
  • Carbon pricing
  • Car and ride sharing
  • Usage-based insurance
  • Usage-based taxes
  • Pollution taxes

Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of digital assets investment group BKCM, commented on the initiative in a note to investors:

“This is a tectonic shift in the tech landscape that has the potential to disrupt the growth plans of legacy tech into the auto.”

He stressed that the most significant part of such projects is data.

“MOBI is doing the end around and making that data self-sovereign and giving the consumer the control over their data property rights,” he added.

MOBI is led by Chris Ballinger, who previously worked as CFO and head of mobility services at the Toyota Research Institute.

The IOTA Foundation, the entity behind the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain project, has also joined the working group.

“We are proud to be a member of the MOBI and partnering with other leading global companies to drive industry standards that unlock the potential of DLT [distributed ledger technology] for the mobility sector,” IOTA’s co-founders Dominik Schiener and David Sønstebø were quoted as saying in a blog announcement.

In February 2018, Bosch announced plans to test IOTA for a driverless car project.

This is not the first occasion that DLT, as blockchain is also referred to, has flirted with the auto market. At the end of February, German luxury car maker Porsche and blockchain startup XAIN were testing the technology for various vehicle features. XAIN is now part of MOBI as well.

In March, Mercedes-Benz brand owner Daimler launched its own cryptocurrency called MobiCOIN, planning it as a reward for those dedicated to eco-driving. Despite the similarities in spelling, MobiCOIN has nothing to do with the MOBI working group.

The full list of the MOBI members runs as follows: Accenture, Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Services USA, Beyond Protocol Inc, BigchainDB, Blockchain at Berkeley, BMW, Bosch, Chronicled, ConsenSys Systems, Context Labs, Crypto Valley Association, Dashride, Deon Digital AG, Digital Twin Labs, DOVU, Fetch.ai, FOAM, Ford, General Motors, Hyperledger, IBM, the IOTA Foundation, Luxoft, MotionWerk, NuCypher, Oaken Innovations, Ocean Protocol, Outlier Ventures, Renault, Ride Austin, Shareing, Shift, Spherical Analytics, the Trusted IoT Alliance, VeChain, Xain, and ZF Friedrichshafen AG.

MOBI’s CEO praised the technology: “Blockchain and related trust-enhancing technologies are poised to redefine the automotive industry and how consumers purchase, insure and use vehicles.”

The new working group is apparently built on top of the Blockchain Mobility Consortium, which was formed in 2017.