Jaguar Land Rover to let drivers earn cryptocurrency by sharing data

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Owners of cars made by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) will be able to earn cryptocurrency as they drive by enabling their vehicles to report “useful” data.

Drivers will be able to earn digital currency by enabling tech in connected vehicles to report road condition data — such as traffic or potholes — to navigation providers and local authorities. Once the data is received, other connected vehicles can be warned to take alternative routes.

JLR has partnered with German non-profit the IOTA Foundation, which helps businesses establish digital protocols, to provide the currency and help handle payments using its disrupted ledger technology — a system like the blockchain that enables cryptocurrency transactions.

The automaker announced Monday that its “smart wallet” technology will let drivers earn the IOTA coin that can be used to pay for everyday costs such as coffee, parking, or charging electric vehicles. According to Reuters, IOTA’s cryptocurrency is worth around 27 U.S. cents per token.

Smart wallet users will also be able to top up their credit using conventional payment methods. JLR expects 75 billion devices to be connected to the smart wallet network by 2025.

The technology is currently being trialed at the JLR software engineering base in Shannon, in the Republic of Ireland, where several vehicle models — including the Jaguar F-PACE and Range Rover Velar — have been equipped with the smart wallet.

“In the future an autonomous car could drive itself to a charging station, recharge and pay, while its owner could choose to participate in the sharing economy — earning rewards from sharing useful data such as warning other cars of traffic jams,” Russell Vickers, a JLR software architect, said in a press release on Monday.

“Our Shannon software development centre is advancing the use of cryptocurrency to make people’s lives better, by allowing drivers to safely share data and make payments from their vehicle,” added Nick Rogers, JLR’s executive director of product engineering.

Dominik Schiener, IOTA co-founder, told Reuters on Friday that there would be a universal coin that could be used by all new vehicles to enable the machine economy of the future.

Jaguar Land Rover has faced financial pressure in recent months, announcing earlier this year that it would cut 10% of its workforce. At the end of March, S&P downgraded its credit rating on the company, and put it on review for a potential further downgrade amid risks of a no-deal Brexit and U.S. import tariffs.

On Sunday, reports emerged that JLR was considering a bid for taxi firm Addison Lee in an effort to compete with digital rivals and establish itself in the self-driving vehicle space. Addison Lee is currently owned by U.S. private equity firm the Carlyle Group, which is hoping to raise £300 million from the sale, The Telegraph reported.

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