Blockchain Can Prevent Odometer Fraud, Says EU Parliament

In November 2017, the Structural and Cohesion Policies Department (aka Policy Department B) of European Parliament’s Directorate-General for Internal Policies concluded a report on odometer tampering. The document included blockchain technology in a list of possible remedies to the problem.

According to the study, 10 to 50 percent of cars in different second-hand markets in the European Union have had their odometers illegally adjusted, and cars “with rolled-back odometers are estimated to account for between 30% and 40% of [the] total number of vehicles traded across borders.” Furthermore, this tampering is estimated to cost European car owners in the EU “several billion euros” annually. One 2014 study by the European Commission examined a set of markets and determined that among them, the second-hand car industry “was ranked the lowest in terms of trust by European consumers,” in part because of the “unavailability of information on accurate odometer readings.”

Blockchain technology could address or even prevent this fraud by recording data captured from cars and allowing prospective buyers as well as officials from relevant government agencies to authenticate a vehicle’s odometer reading by comparing it to the most recent entry in a distributed database, which the report refers to as a “digital logbook.” Unlike other technologies that might be employed to operate such a database, the blockchain offers the added benefit of protecting data, and therefore the privacy of those who own the cars associated with that information. A blockchain-based system would also be capable of collecting data frequently, at a rate that would be determined by various parties’ needs, and these readings could be “constantly validated with GPS data.”

At a March 2017 conference in Berlin, the electronics firm Bosch gave a presentation on the possibility of a blockchain solution to the problem of odometer tampering. A diagram attributed to Bosch appeared in European Parliament’s November report.