For many people in urban areas, public transport is the first choice for getting around. Furthermore, new mobility services are currently emerging everywhere. Car and bike sharing can be highlighted here, but e-scooters have also long since established themselves in the urban landscape. New mobility offers are a positive trend for citizens and companies alike, but there are downsides. The mobility concepts are poorly coordinated. This discourages users, which in turn has a negative impact on the growth of providers. Self-sovereign identity (SSI) offers open interfaces, which guarantees better networking of the different mobility concepts.
Existing closed systems annoy users
Whether by train or bus, many people have become accustomed to purchasing their tickets digitally. For operators as well as passengers, this is the more cost-effective option. In many places, digital bus tickets are cheaper and easier to obtain. The smartphone is a constant companion anyway. A digital train ticket is also easier to replace if the smartphone is lost. It only has to be downloaded again. A digital app with a stored ticket is a good option for using public transport, but a must for other services such as e-scooters. Without prior authentication via a downloaded app, these cannot be used at all.
Here, the first problems of today’s mobility concepts are already emerging. Every service provider has its own app in the app store and these are only rarely compatible with each other. If you take the bus in Frankfurt, you need a different smartphone app than in Cologne. The train ticket for the journey from Frankfurt to Cologne is in turn stored in the Deutsche Bahn application. Such closed systems, which often only contain offers from one transport association, are not practicable from the user’s point of view. It goes without saying that additional apps are needed to use sharing services.
Public and private transport services in the blockchain-based mobility concept
As a component of the Web3, the Self-sovereign identity also offers numerous advantages in the analogue world. As it is designed as an open ecosystem, it can be easily implemented in existing mobility concepts. Instead of storing the monthly bus pass in the app of the local transport company, it is stored in the user’s private wallet. The same applies to payment information, the Bahncard, credentials for e-scooter rental or car sharing. In addition, it is also possible to obtain a ticket with the wallet without any problems.
Additional apps are no longer necessary with the blockchain-based digital identity. For the user, the transition from one means of transport to the next is thus seamless. However, this benefits not only the customers but also the companies. There is no longer any need to develop additional apps that have to comply with strict data protection guidelines. Sensitive data remains with the user: attributes to be transmitted are transferred as encrypted certificates from the blockchain. Furthermore, such an interoperable system promises more potential customers, as they no longer have to go through a cumbersome registration process for each provider.
The problems are predominantly to be found in the analogue world
As promising as the concept may sound, there are hurdles to overcome. However, these can be found less in the digital world and more in the physical world. In many places, mobility concepts are poorly coordinated. If the digital identity promises the user a seamless transition from one transport offer to the next, these offers must also be physically available. E-scooters and bicycles for rent should be available at bus stops. Car-sharing, on the other hand, must be made possible at busy transport hubs as well as terminal stops. As an open ecosystem, the SSI guarantees the networking of different offers. However, they must be present in the public space.
From car purchase to registration: legitimation processes are smart and secure
Not only public transport and sharing services benefit from self-sovereign identity, but also the automotive sector in general. Whether buying a car or taking a test drive, car dealers are forced to collect data from their customers. For example, identity cards and driving licences have to be presented, and bank details have to be collected along with information on creditworthiness. Verification is currently done manually by the employees. Furthermore, such sensitive information has to be specially protected. All this costs time and money.
With the SSI, already verified certificates are transmitted whose authenticity no longer needs to be checked by employees. Manual processes are thus eliminated. This benefits car dealers as well as customers. Vehicle registration can also be carried out online – the legislator has now passed the necessary laws for this. Here, too, the blockchain provides forgery-proof certificates. The SSI thus helps to reduce bureaucratic processes for companies and citizens and increases data protection for all parties involved.