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Blockchain Has Potential in Curbing Odometer Fraud: EU Report

The European Parliament has released a research paper that explores blockchain, among other technologies, in the prevention of odometer tampering.

The report, issued by the Directorate General for Internal Policies, investigates the possible role of blockchain technology in the use case, concluding that it might “present interesting potentials” for effective prevention of fraud through increased transparency and data privacy.

The report explains:

“The blockchain technology currently proposed by the car engineering and electronics industry would allow downloading mileage and GPS data from vehicles, and securing it on a ‘digital logbook’.”

The study further suggests that blockchain can be supported by a “connected cars” concept that allows cloud-based access to all relevant vehicle data in a future scenario involving autonomous vehicles.

Blockchain technology is one among the three approaches identified to address odometer fraud in the paper, including a standardized framework based on international standards (ISO) and equipping a vehicle with hardware security modules (HSMs) to protect data.

The issue of odometer fraud, or “clocking,” is one being investigated by other startups in the blockchain space, as well as major enterprises.

In June, CoinDesk reported on a project by startup BigchainDB and German energy company Innogy that aims to create a digital identity on a blockchain of any physical good, including autos.

To tackle clocking, the CarPass project creates a record of the odometer and vehicle activity with the data visible and verifiable on a digital platform.

“If someone starts tampering with the mileage, you basically see it as a step change in the data that someone tampered with [it],” said Innogy’s Carsten Stocker at the time.

Car odometer image via Shutterstock

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IBM Joins Automakers, Banks in Blockchain Wallet Project Expansion

IBM has joined German car manufacturer ZF Friedrichshafen and investment bank UBS in an effort to build and develop a blockchain-based mobile payment system.

Announced today at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the partnership is being positioned as one that conceives how driverless vehicles might automatically authorize payments, as well as act as a digital operator for the vehicle, in the future.

“Car eWallet is an innovative, digital assistant in the car that allows secure and convenient payments even on the go. Moreoever, it can also perform other tasks, like opening the trunk or doors,” according to a statement.

According to the companies involved, using a blockchain will prevent the need for a third-party vendor or central computing hub to process transactions and commands. The distributed nature will instead allow for a “reliable and unchangeable data record.”

ZF originally announced the Car eWallet system in January, promising to develop a system to aid the charging of electric cars on the road, as well as processing mobile payments. At the time, ZF planned for Car eWallet to facilitate a car-sharing system, as well as ensure more secure package delivery by having items be dropped directly into a car’s trunk.

IBM will use its blockchain infrastructure to further develop a secure system which can carry out the required tasks, as well as show authorized users information that is relevant to their vehicles, and carry out transactions in real-time.

Overall, the move comes in an active time for the auto industry, which is newly exploring potential blockchain applications. In May, Toyota announced that it would try to develop a blockchain infrastructure to drive its development of “autonomous technologies,” including passenger safety monitoring and fraud prevention.

Car steering wheel image via Shutterstock

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