Alex Miles is the CEO of VINchain, a project that aims to disrupt the automobile market and make roads safer for all by launching transparent vehicle histories built on the blockchain. Crypto Disrupt spoke with Miles about the VINchain project’s development, and how it will achieve its goal of revolutionizing the industry.
CD: So, where did the idea for VINchain come from?
AM: I was Head of Business Development at ABetterBid who acted as middlemen for everyday consumers and Copart auctions. When blockchain technology came along, we saw the immense value it could have in our sector. We knew it would be especially valuable to consumers because it can be difficult to navigate the used car market since checking the history of several vehicles is cost prohibitive, the information you need can be hard to find, and problems aren’t always obvious at the point of sale. Often they show up months down the road, and by then it’s too late.
When blockchain technology came along, we immediately recognized its immense value. Here was a technology that could allow everyone to know a vehicle’s real history — odometer fraud alone is a 30 billion dollar problem, so the importance of having this knowledge can’t be understated. We had the idea for Vinchain and took action.
CD: How has the development process been from initial conception until now?
We’ve already developed our first block, published our wallet, developed the Alpha of our solution, and our Android and IOS apps are all but ready to go. We’ve achieved all of this, and our ICO hasn’t even finished yet.
CD: Why did you utilize blockchain technology for VINchain instead of a more centralized database system?
AM: That’s simple. Blockchain technology offers benefits that simply aren’t possible with a centralized platform. Firstly, look at the transparency of the technology. Blockchain can create an immutable record of a vehicle’s history that is verifiable by anyone, and once that information is on the blockchain, that history never changes. It solves the issue of trust because you only have to trust the network rather than one single identity.
It’s also blockchain’s openness. It avoids the fragmented approach you’d get by relying on different databases that don’t necessarily share information and don’t usually have a great deal of useful data anyway. It makes everything simpler, and of course, it’s as secure as it gets. I don’t want to say it’s impossible to hack, because I believe that nothing is impossible, but I think it’s pretty close.
I should also mention the issue of data ownership. With blockchain, data belongs to the person who generated it. Compare that with a centralized system, and there’s no contest. Once you put your data into a centralized system it no longer belongs to you, but now we can incentivize people to volunteer their data for a reward, and that is going to make a huge impact. Most services that harvest your data (like Google and Facebook), profit from it, but they don’t give much back. These platforms are free because users and their data are the product. Confidence in centralized platforms is dwindling, especially recently, so we want to provide an alternative and put data back in the right hands with a system everybody can trust.
CD: What areas/countries are you targeting first? And what do you see as your primary target?
AM: Well, we’re a global solution, but we’re starting off in Canada and the US as we know those markets best. Start small, develop, and scale. That’s the plan. Collectively our team has decades, if not hundreds of years’ experience in these markets, and our team and advisors (from businesses like Audi and PureCars) are all based over here, so it makes sense.
But we’re getting an overwhelmingly positive response from all over the world. People are reaching out to us from Canada, Japan, Russia — I was recently talking with importers from Africa — people are excited about our project, and they’re ready for us to bring it to them. And we will, but right now we’re focused here, in this market. If you chase two rabbits at the same time, you catch none.
CD: What do you see as the unique selling point of VINchain over other companies, like for example VeChain?
AM: It depends on how you look at the competitive landscape. Our proposals differ with a company like VeChain. They want to be a global registry and are making roads into lots of different markets, and I think what they’re doing is great, but there’s no competition per se. We’re focused on the market we know best, we’re first movers, and that gives us a huge advantage — besides a little competition does everyone good.
Using our application and installing a piece of telematics hardware (OBDs can be installed in every vehicle made since 1996), drivers can collect live data, which, with their permission, will be shared with VINchain and the driver gets paid. Getting paid isn’t the only benefit for drivers either. By plugging in this device, everything the car does can be recorded, which means that good drivers can get more accurate, cheaper insurance quotes, as well as real-time diagnostics that allow the driver to identify problems with their vehicle before they occur. This will save them time and money on repairs without the need for an engineering degree. It also provides a more comprehensive history of the vehicle meaning more money for sellers who can prove the quality of the vehicle and gives added security for buyers.
And it doesn’t stop there. The system will be equipped with LoJack software, crash reports, etc., and will be able to offer drivers discounts from local partners. I could go on forever because are so many benefits of the system.
CD: So, where do you see VINchain in the next five years?
AM: We’re aiming for 100% market share, that’s the goal. We’ve got the people, the skills, and we’ve got first mover’s advantage, so that’s our goal. We want every vehicle to be connected.
CD: Before we end the interview, is there anything else you’d like to add?
AM: If you’re interested in our project, our ICO presale ends on April 15, and you’re welcome to join our telegram community. We’re available online 24/7, and you will be able to speak with me directly or one of the other founders/team members.