BMW Accelerates on the Blockchain Circuit
BMW well known for its engines (Cars & aircrafts) since the days of World War has put its foot on the accelerator pedal and is racing ahead strongly in the Blockchain industry. Just a week after its deal with Chinese Blockchain supply firm ‘VEChain’, BMW has closed a partnership with a blockchain startup ‘Circulor’. The German automotive giant will be working with this London based start-up to use Blockchain to ensure that its electric vehicle batteries will contain only clean or ethical cobalt.
Clean/ Ethical cobalt
Two-thirds of the world’s cobalt supplies are from Democratic Republic of Congo, where around one-fifth of cobalt is mined in unregulated artisanal mines. According to UNICEF, in 2014 there were around 40,000 child miners in Congo’s southern region. BMW wants to ensure that all its batteries contains clean cobalt i.e., free from child labor.
Circulor was founded by ‘Douglas Johnson-Poensgen’ last year with an objective to reduce costs while manufacturing electric vehicles. Douglas is an army engineer, involved in activities such as bomb disposal in Sierra Leone and Bosnia. He has also worked for big corporations like BT, Barclay’s bank, etc.
How will the partnership work?
While speaking to Reuters, ‘Douglas Johnson-Poensgen’ CEO of Circulor briefed that they would work with BMW on a pilot where it will be tested through Blockchain technology that the Cobalt sourced is clean i.e., from countries like Australia, Canada or an industrial production in Congo. Post that they will also start working with artisanal mines. Douglas, believes that blockchain technology can track cobalt’s journey through BMW’s complex global supply chain. It can be done by using a barcode which tracks cobalt through the main stages of its journey. Not only will this system ensure BMW is sourcing their cobalt ethically, it also has the potential to lower regulatory compliance costs. While speaking to media, ‘Douglas’ said,
“We believe it makes economic sense to start with sources that aren’t a problem”. He further added by stating, “Once the system is proven and operating at scale, one can tackle the harder use cases like artisanal mines.”
If the partnership is successful, it will have global ramifications for ethical causes using Blockchain. This use case is important because if successful, new operating models would be available across the global industries to increase transparency and efficiency in the supply chain. Moreover, if blockchain technology can ensure the clean sourcing of minerals, the Blockchain community can put additional pressure on governments to adopt these measures and enforce stricter rules and standards for every company involved