IBM Joins Automakers, Banks in Blockchain Wallet Project Expansion

IBM is joining a consortium effort that seeks to conceive how blockchain payments could help power autonomous vehicles.

Sep 12, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:55 a.m. UTC

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

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," the companies said in a statement today.

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, at the time promising to develop a payment system to aid the charging of electric cars. 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 reportedly now 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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