Cihan Albay , Leader of IT Tech Office Singapore, BMW Group Asia, @vechainofficial, Twitter
Image: Cihan Albay , Leader of IT Tech Office Singapore, BMW Group Asia, speaking at the VeChain Summit 2019 on April 18, 2019 in San Francisco, by @vechainofficial, via Twitter

At the VeChain Summit 2019 on April 18, 2019 in San Francisco, Cihan Albay, the IT leader at BMW Group Asia’s Tech Office in Singapore, presented the firm’s VerifyCar app, a “vehicle digital passport on the blockchain” which it developed in collaboration with VeChain, a blockchain startup focusing primarily on supply chain management.

VerifyCar aims to address odometer fraud, a widespread issue in Germany where 33% of second hand cars have manipulated odometers. The estimated average economical impact of the practice adds up to 3,000 EUR per car resulting in a total damage of around 6 billion EUR yearly.

“What we tried to do here is to build a digital passport that verifies datasets and allows people to know if what a seller says is really true,” Albay told the audience.

“We built a digital ledger using the VeChain blockchain. Every interaction with a car has a stored hash key in the blockchain. That can be anything from changing a filter, changing the battery, having the annual service, etc. Our cars all have a SIM card which sends out datasets regularly. We store these datasets, verify them and of course make a call to the blockchain to prove that this call has already been made.”

The VerifyCar app has already been tested with internal vehicles, Albay said, adding that BMW is currently determining how to roll the product out.

“Blockchain is still a sensitive topic. People in Germany currently don’t know how to react about blockchain [especially] when they hear that [information] stored on a blockchain cannot be deleted afterwards,” he said. “We really need to have a look at our business strategy and how to roll out. But we have proven that it works and we are keen to continue further.”

VeChain was part of BMW Startup Garage, a four-month collaboration program focusing on developing relevant solutions for the German car manufacturer. Albay said the two companies have been working together for over a year now.

The VerifyCar app is one of the numerous blockchain initiatives BMW has been involved in. Last year, it launched the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) with more than 30 other automakers, startups and tech companies. Today, the consortium counts more than 100 companies and organizations, and is actively involved in working groups, events and hackathons.  

BMW has also worked with blockchain startups Bloom, Dovu and Supermoney.