In September 2019, we had the pleasure of traveling to the Deutsche Telekom headquarters in Bonn for the official launch of Xride. This fully decentralized e-mobility pilot was initiated by Telekom’s Innovation Laboratories (aka T-Labs) and built in collaboration with Riddle & Code, Bundesdruckerei, Simple Mobility and Jolocom.
The four-week pilot in Bonn and Berlin aimed to showcase the future of ridesharing. Typically, functionalities such as identity, payments and charging are centralized operations. However, with Xride they were fully decentralized, allowing for a less costly, more secure and more efficient scooter sharing system, benefiting both users and providers.
Why decentralize ridesharing?
Whether passwords, usernames, or ID cards, how many login credentials do you hold? The likely answer is too many. And who wants to add yet another to the list?
This is becoming an issue for ridesharing operations. With centralized systems, users must register their identity and payment credentials with each new service. Lengthy and frustrating onboarding and verification processes result in reduced conversion rates for the providers. At the same time, providers are required to store this sensitive user data in siloed backends that are costly to maintain and at risk of attack.
Payment and charging are also problematic. High transaction costs and fees make short rides economically unviable. Juicers – the employees who collect and redistribute scooters, replace batteries and pick up vehicles that need maintenance – are also required and add to costs .
Decentralized technologies such as blockchain enable new forms of ridesharing and resolve common pain points related to identity, payment and charging. As such, this industry is a natural entrant into the decentralized world.
Getting Xride ready
Working with Bundesdruckerei, a federal government security company that supplies Germany’s ID cards, passports and more, and blockchain interface company Riddle & Code, we built a decentralized system for Xride.
In the Xride system, riders are onboarded by taking three steps:
- First, the rider downloads two apps — the Xride app, giving access to the rideshare platform, and the Jolocom SmartWallet (Android | iOS), which lets them manage their verified credentials in a way that fully preserves privacy.
- They are then verified in person by Bundesdruckerei, whose software and hardware scanners digitize riders’ German ID cards and upload them to the SmartWallet.
- Finally, the rider exchanges their verified credentials directly with the scooter, provided by Simple Mobility. The scooter contains a combination of Jolocom software and Riddle & Code hardware, giving the vehicle its own decentralized identity. This way rider and scooter can communicate directly with one another without needing to go through a central service. Riders do the same when exchanging batteries at the swappable battery stations, also provided by Simple Mobility.
Under this fully decentralized system, riders remain in full control of their ID information and, after the first verification, onboarding can be instantaneous.Using a single self-sovereign identity sign-on is a win-win. There’s less admin for consumers while companies can onboard more quickly and with reduced data management costs.
Transaction fees can be reduced by as much as 90 percent in a decentralized ecosystem, making even very short rides viable, both for rider and provider. At the same time, with riders exchanging batteries and recharging scooters themselves, the need for juicers should be reduced.
Piloting the ecosystem
Between 11 September and 11 October 2019, a fleet of Xride scooters were provided for a select group of Deutsche Telekom employees to use. Swappable battery stations were set up too. This was to establish two decentralized mobility ecosystems, in Bonn and Berlin. Participants interacted with the Xride app and scooters, swapped batteries on the go and shared their feedback and insights.
For everyone at Jolocom, being a part of the Xride pilot scheme was an incredibly valuable experience. This was the first time hundreds of people had interacted with the Jolocom SmartWallet, using it both to register for and then as their key to the Deutsche Telekom Xride scooters. It was also the first time we worked alongside Bundesdruckerei to make driver’s licences a reusable and verifiable credential.
Perhaps the most important thing we got from the experience, however, was the feedback, both from partners and users. This went on to inform the design decisions we made about the SmartWallet’s look and feel and the user’s experience of it. What’s more, it also threw up some interesting legal questions around how to create something that users truly feel safe and comfortable with, and happy to use in their everyday lives.
In the news
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For more information on Xride visit: https://laboratories.telekom.com/de/blockchain-scooter/
For questions on how you can implement self-sovereign identities into your system, email us at hello (at) jolocom (dot) io