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Commerzbank tests blockchain-based payments for machine-to-machine transactions

Major German bank Commerzbank announced that it has developed a blockchain-based payment solution that specifically automates machine-to-machine (M2M) payment processes. This pilot project is in collaboration with Daimler Trucks, with this M2M payment part of the test for the direct handling of charging operations of electrically powered trucks. 

The automated payment pilot involves the transaction process between an electric truck and the charging station it docks at for its electricity needs. “In the transaction, Commerzbank first brought in euros on the blockchain and then provided the so-called “cash on ledger,” i.e. the money on the blockchain, to Daimler Trucks for the settlement of the payment transactions,” said the bank in its statement. 

Digitalization has transformed the transportation sector, bringing the concept of connected vehicles, making them smart enough to be interacted with, unlike traditional vehicles that were designed with the singular intent of moving people and freight. Connected vehicles have allowed automakers and service providers to tap into the various data streams flowing out of vehicles in real-time, which is further used to create insights into vehicle operation and maintenance. 

However, as technology proliferates within the cab, it is critical to understand the threats that are associated with vehicles being connected in real-time to the cloud. One of the greatest concerns is hacking, a real possibility as connected vehicles can be vulnerable to external data hijacking if their firewall defenses are not strong enough. 

For payment processes within such connected vehicles and future autonomous vehicles, blockchain provides a way to be more secure with transactions, because it is a digital ledger that is both immutable and decentralized. Commerzbank has stated that mapping end-to-end automated payment processes is not possible in the current scenario, thus pointing out to the need for a network that is as secure as the one built over blockchain. 

“Following the recent digitization of securities transactions and the use of blockchain technology, we are now focusing on DLT-based payment structures. As a bank, we naturally also see our mission as creating new digital payment architectures for our customers,” said Stephan Müller, divisional board member of transaction banking at Commerzbank. 

Commerzbank has termed the pilot a success, mentioning that it has proved that in the future, “both the loading and the subsequent payment process can proceed completely autonomously and without human intervention.” With industry incumbents in the space clearly convinced that autonomous driving technology will surface initially within the freight hauling industry, it becomes all the more essential for payment systems to be made secure, as M2M transactions will soon be the norm. 

To make sure the blockchain-based networks are interoperable across different layers and processes, it is necessary for companies to look at standardizing blockchain frameworks, which can be done through organizations like the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA). BiTA currently has over 500 members from within the transportation and logistics industry, intending to create open blockchain standards that can act as a springboard for companies in the space to develop blockchain-related applications that can interact seamlessly with each other.