Daimler AG presents MobiCoin cryptocurrency rewards program
The token is designed to reward eco-friendly drivers and be redeemable for a range of related rewards.
Daimler AG, formerly known as Daimler-Chrysler, has designed a cryptocurrency rewards program for eco-friendly drivers. The token, called MobiCoin, is designed to be redeemable for a range of related rewards, such as tickets to auto shows.
It takes the form of an app, currently being tested by a handful of users, and seems to be aiming to gamify eco-driving, with features like a leader table, point scores and achievements, or challenges, as they're called in the app.
Points are awarded for slower and more leisurely driving, use of eco mode and easing up on the gas by letting the car coast where possible.
The system is clever in that it actually aims to train drivers in more environmentally friendly driving. You can tell people to ease up on the gas, coast to a stop and do similarly eco-friendly things, but a system that gives actual feedback is much more likely to help it stick.
As a mobile app, it naturally doesn't give drivers feedback while they're behind the wheel and instead tallies the points up en route and gives awards at the end of the trip.
It's actually a rewards point system, just like frequent flyer miles or any other commercial points program, and it might be called a cryptocurrency simply because it uses a blockchain.
Loyalty and points programs have already proven themselves to be an exceptionally valuable part of many large company's strategies, and the blockchain might be a natural fit for them. It's a lot harder to tamper with or exploit than other options and can be used to actually give drivers possession of unique digital tokens, rather than simply letting them rack up numbers in the company's database.
Drivers can manage their Mobi points as desired, which can help take the load off Daimler's customer service personnel, and generally run itself with minimal cost and effort. Along the way, it keeps an impeccably clear record of all MobiCoin transactions, letting Daimler see exactly how customers engage with the points and letting them analyse the data it provides over time.
This might be the mentality behind Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten's decision to migrate its $9 billion rewards program to the blockchain.
Plus there's the possibility of coins accruing some monetary value on the cryptocurrency exchanges. It's not entirely clear whether users will be able to freely transfer, pool or move their MobiCoin, but if they can, then there's nothing to stop it from picking up a market price of its own and being listed on exchanges.
For example, someone who just needs a few more tokens to redeem a specific reward might negotiate a price with another Daimler driver and buy the points they need on an exchange.
The possibility of earning some value while driving might be a competitive edge for Daimler, and may drive more customers towards Daimler vehicles over competitors. Although in the absence of clear cryptocurrency regulations, it might be a bigger headache than it's worth.
At this stage, it might mostly be serving as a useful low-stakes test case for Daimler to work on its blockchain system and work out any kinks before using it for bigger projects. It's becoming increasingly clear that car manufacturers see blockchain-type technology in their future, especially in light of the upcoming switch to driverless cars and the age of autonomous driving. A car maker that doesn't look into it now risks being left at a severe disadvantage later.
Daimler AG has previously said that it increasingly sees itself transitioning into business as a "mobility services provider" rather than just a car maker, and as the scope of its duties expands, blockchain technology will almost certainly become an increasingly important part of its business.
Elsewhere, Porsche is testing blockchain technology to let users more securely control the car via an app, log encrypted data and allow temporary authorisations, while its parent company Volkswagen seems to have linked arms with IoT cryptocurrency IOTA, with the intention of moving into the future through it.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VEN, XLM, SALT, BTC and XRB.