ZF, UBS and IBM collaborate on blockchain technology for automotive transactions
ZF, UBS and IBM will soon be jointly developing an open automotive transaction platform for mobility services based on blockchain technology.
Car eWallet has the potential to “radically change the way manufacturers, suppliers and service providers process digital transactions and considerably simplify the use of vehicle services”, according to UBM.
Equipped with the Car eWallet technology, the vehicle can automatically pay for transactions at the electric vehicle charging station.
Auto manufacturers, technology companies, suppliers and mobility service providers are all driving the development of driverless cars. To support autonomous driving, however, these vehicles require a digital agent that can independently carry out tasks and authorize payments without the owner or user having to be active themselves.
Car eWallet is an innovative, digital assistant in the car that allows secure and convenient payments even on the go. Moreover, it can also perform other tasks, like opening the trunk or doors.
The Car eWallet is based on the IBM Blockchain technology, which makes it possible to synchronize the information of each participant in the network in a reliable and unchangeable data record.
At the same time, it ensures that users only have access to the information that they are permitted to see and use.
This makes secure transactions almost in real time possible without needing a central instance or a reliable third party. The open automotive transaction platform for mobility-related services has the potential to radically change e-commerce between manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and customers.
“The trend toward car-sharing and future autonomous vehicles requires, now more than ever, a transaction ecosystem that everyone can use,” said Dr. Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG.
“The Car eWallet technology will reduce risks and costs while dramatically improving convenience for owners and users.”
The platform is built on IBM Blockchain technology, which is provided through the IBM Cloud and driven by Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, a blockchain framework and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by the Linux Foundation.
With this public cloud service platform the partners intend to build a secure blockchain network that can collect fees for parking, toll, as well as future use cases such as car-sharing, energy provisioning to the power system or delivery services.
“The world of mobility is quickly evolving with self-driving vehicles, electric cars and new mobility services having quickly evolved from visionary concepts into reality. Time of great change requires transformational solutions,” said Dirk Wollschlaeger, General Manager IBM Global Automotive, Aerospace and Defense.
“Together with UBS and ZF, we are engineering a new mobility platform to redefine how, when and where traditional transactions occur.”
Veronica Lange, Head of Innovation at UBS, said: “In today's digitally connected world, no single institution works in isolation. As a leading financial services institution, we pursue the development of a new platform that will transform how transactions and payments between vehicles and other machines can be done efficiently and safely.”
Japan Seeks to Revive Stalled Semiconductor Industry
Post-pandemic, Japan has seen the consequences of relying solely on foreign imports for its semiconductors. Over 64.2% of its chips are usually imported from South Korea and Taiwan, leaving the country dependent on its neighbours. Industries from auto manufacturers to consumer electronics firms wait for chips, to no avail. But now, the Japanese government looks likely to put real funding behind its semiconductor industry, with top officials emphasising their support.
Domestic supply chains have never been more important. Rather than remain tied to international shipping routes during shortages and delays, governments are doing everything in their power to develop local lines of supply. But the question remains: can Japan pull it off?
How Will Japan Pay For It?
Herein lies our first issue. Japan’s debt has rapidly increased over the past few years, and the semiconductor industry will need roughly a trillion yen—US$9bn—in this fiscal year alone. This cost, however, pales in comparison to what Japan could lose if it fails to keep up with Europe and the US. Both nations have launched aggressive funding measures to revive their local semiconductor industries. And if Japan refuses to invest due to its debt, it could slow down progress in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to autonomous driving.
According to Tetsuro Higashi, the former president of Tokyo Electron and Japan’s top government advisor in semiconductor strategy, ‘If we miss this opportunity now, there may not be another one’. Yet one advanced wafer fabrication factory can cost more than US$10bn, and any money poured into the industry will go fast. That’s why Japan, rather than invest trillions and trillions in failing domestic firms, is considering a second option.
What Do They Plan To Do?
Japan now intends to look abroad and convince overseas chip foundries to come to its shores. Its past failures mostly centred on trying to merge domestic firms that were already going through tough times. ‘This sort of made-in-Japan self-reliance approach hasn’t worked out well’, said Kazumi Nishikawa, a director at the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry’s IT division. ‘This time the goal is to offer a strong incentive for an overseas logic foundry to come to Japan’.
As follows, Japan will now reach out to industry partners and leaders in other countries, including the industry heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), to build Japanese bases. According to the South China Morning Post, the heart of Japan’s mission is a US$337.2mn research and development project in Tsukuba that will involve TSMC and more than 20 Japanese firms. ‘I think we need to cooperate with our overseas counterparts’, said Akira Amari, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. ‘[And] TSMC is the world’s top logic chipmaker’.
Indeed, if that’s Japan’s strategy, the future looks bright. TSMC recently set up a venture near Tokyo to research energy-efficient 3D chips with several Japanese partners. And in the future, the multinational chipmaker may consider expanding its Japanese operations—that is, if government incentives pave the path forward.