The Car Rental business has existed for decades. The basic workflow essentially involves a customer reserving or booking a car through a channel such as the Web or telephone, and taking temporary possession of the allotted car from the designated pick-up location, at the chosen date and time. The rental management process ties together various activities comprising car inspection reports, selling an insurance policy for the rental duration, as well as contract management between the owner and the customer. The entire process, while familiar to most, has inherent operational inefficiencies built in due to the nature of activities. For instance, speeding violations during the car rental period involve multiple agencies cooperating with each other and can take weeks to close. New-age technologies like Blockchain can help reduce the process time and increase the efficiency in the entire value chain.
The entire process, as followed currently, has inherent inefficiencies built in due to the nature of activities. Some examples are given below.
- Contract issuance: Paperwork involved in pre-delivery and post-return car inspections, temporary transfer of ownership, insurance, all delay the rental process
- Information sharing: Information sharing between the rental company, insurer, traffic system, road transport authorities, can get delayed
- Penalty tracking: Speeding or parking violations, insurance contract violations during the rental period require the paper trail to be followed, which can delay the entire settlement process significantly
Here’s how blockchain can help in the entire value chain:
- Increase process efficiency: Blockchain allows information sharing transparently through consensus – seamlessly, efficiently and in real-time. Because this information cannot be repudiated, the overall trust in the system is high, leading to increased process efficiency.
- Timestamped audit trail: Blockchain does not store the transaction data but instead a timestamped hash of carefully curated transaction data. This can enable a complete audit trail of transactions that are timestamped and cryptographically secured.
- Realize cost savings: Blockchain can reduce manual efforts and increase automation using smart contracts
Various Government and Private Agencies in the smart city form a consortium using a permissioned Blockchain network. Since all parties can verify by consensus, what goes into the system, and have access to the same immutable information, the trust factor in the setup is extremely high.
In a smart city, government agencies typically install and support a mechanism for procuring real-time data from various sources across the entire city. Here, it is assumed that the rental car, the relevant city infrastructure comprising traffic monitoring systems, parking meters, toll gates, etc. support RFID data exchange.
Using current Blockchain technologies, it is possible to build segregation between general information meant for consumption by all participants and data that needs to be exchanged only between two entities. For instance, the agency operating parking meters may not access a renter’s insurance policy details.