The mobility sector’s first venture into blockchain and cryptocurrency is underway in the form of Motus Medical’s former operations director, Richard Bate, who has taken a step back from the business so he can research the real world applications of the technologies for the mobility industry.
Bates has started a new company, Svorsk Group, which will investigate and research blockchain and cryptographic technology and see how it can apply to the mobility sector. Blockchain is an electronic ledger in which transactions made in cryptocurrency, are recorded chronologically. It was first developed to enable cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
Blockchain is effectively a database that is validated by a wider community instead of a central body. Because the public ledger is not controlled by a single body it cannot be easily tampered with, giving it better protection than standard databases.
The adoption of the technology in the mobility sector, Bates hopes, will allow for better asset tracking, traceability of parts, sales and servicing. The aim is to help mobility suppliers and dealers track and log everything much more effectively and run their businesses more smoothly and efficiently, ultimately providing a better service for end-users.
Bate explained that where there are holes in the supply chain and processes, he is going to use his experience and contacts within the mobility industry to see where blockchain technology can fit into the sector.
“It can raise levels for the not only the UK market but also the international mobility market. I know cryptocurrency and blockchain are not common terminology to a lot of people but regardless of where cryptocurrency goes in terms of regulation, the underlying technology, is where I feel the biggest growth could be for the market.”
Bate added that there are inconsistencies in the market at the moment, which is holding some parts of it back.
“The perfect example is I’ve seen small businesses using five pieces of separate software to run the business and there’s always room for human error, inconsistencies, things not being carried across, things being lost, and really there needs to be some standardisation in terms of that, I feel.”
Referring to research that only around 22% of stolen mobility scooters are returned to their owners, Bate said the level or lost equipment is “not really acceptable”.
“I know certain bodies have tried to create an organised database of stock but without any real drive behind it and without everybody on-board it’s not going to really work as a product. That’s one reason I want to look at blockchain, because with blockchain you can standardise it, so everyone, every dealer, small or large businesses, can all have a contribution to this larger database and can track assets properly.”
It is hoped this kind of tracking will help mobility dealers distinguish whether any equipment that passes through their business is flagged against anything, for example, whether they are stolen goods. This could help ‘solve’ situations like the recent theft of 81 Drive DeVilbiss scooters, which sparked concerns among dealers of unauthorised resales of the stolen Envoys.
But Bates said he is in no rush to push the technology onto what is in some cases a conservative market. He added: “It’s a case of reacting to what the market needs rather than me saying ‘this is what you need – use it’. It’s still early days and it’s timing it for when the market is ready for it because blockchain technology is still very new.”
“It takes a while for industries to really adopt [blockchain] and realise its potential and with the mobility industry being slightly behind, you’ve probably got a bit of a handicap there. It’s more of a call to arms really, it’s opening up a dialogue across the entire market.”