Tim Wouda, head of smart mobility at Ericsson joins the VMC board of advisors. We did an interview with him about his background, his fascination with blockchain technology and VMC.
For the people who do not know you, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?
I am living with my family in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I have a BSc in Digital Design, MSc in Innovation Sciences and an MBA, so a rather broad background from technology to business. Throughout my career I mostly worked on the business side of IT, typically in product management and business development. In summary a customer and business driven entrepreneur with experience in initiating and scaling value propositions, partnerships and teams.
You have a rich experience in the connectivity and Internet of Things (IoT) industry, could you share your experience?
Since my own start-up Wireless Networks I have worked at Swisscom, KPN and currently Ericsson. So that pretty much clarifies the connectivity angle. Over the last decade I focussed on Internet of Things, increasingly towards cloud services and applications. As IoT is a very broad domain, I dedicated further into vertical use cases such as mobility services, driver safety and efficiency, telematics and EV charging. It is great to see how these technologies and services turn into meaningful benefits to users.
What do you like about mobility and Mobility as a Service (MaaS)?
I find personal mobility so intriguing as it is has so much untapped potential for optimization. Just only think of the amount of cars that are not utilized 95% of the time. The MaaS promise has proof to make travel so much more efficient and sustainable. For the customer it means simple and seamless travel, anyhow, anywhere, anytime. Behind the scenes this is not simple at all. It requires a cooperative orchestration for planning, booking and payment amongst cars, trains, buses and micro mobility. And finally, cities need to be in the picture to set the rules or incentives that stimulate green and efficient mobility.
How did you get involved in the Blockchain space?
A key challenge of MaaS is the lack of standards, trust across transport providers and ego of owning the customer relation. In search for solutions I faced that alternatives are quickly becoming too heavyweight and cumbersome to comprise a scattered and complex landscape. The distributed ledger of blockchain caught my attention as it allows to define a transparent set of jointly agreed rules on how to provide and obtain transport, covered in smart contracts.
What made you interested in the project VMC?
The VMC-project resonates well with my vision on how blockchain can be beneficial for mobility. This is also why I bumped repeatedly into Jochem. Finally at the Connekt Affiliation contest I got encouraged to coach VMC.
What’s the last thing you learned that you thought was interesting?
Thanks to the scheduled STO of VMC, I got triggered to learn about Security Token Offerings. This means that blockchain is not only used as solution for mobility, but also to raise funds for the project in a distributed, low-barrier and trusted fashion. In contrast to ICO (Initial Coin Offering), STO provides security tokens that are backed by real assets or benefits and is controlled under legislation. These arguments provide confidence to investments.
What makes VMC unique in your opinion?
There is a lot of hype around MaaS services where established parties and new entrants are repositioning to obtain a central role. Most parties envision a customer facing or central role in the ecosystem. However, a more efficient and trusted ecosystem in a scattered landscape does not allow for additional layers or winner-takes-all approach. The VMC project allows service providers to create their own customer facing Dapps and allows transport providers to benefit of their agreed share of contributed value. Furthermore, transport authorities can set the rules and/or incentives to achieve their objectives on CO2 emissions and efficiency. I have not seen other firms that offer such a lean and transparent approach across public and private transport modes.
What kind of future do you predict for VMC?
Well, there is no such thing as an easy journey to success in this domain considering the local and fragmented landscape. However, VMC has the right ingredients to face these challenges and accelerate adoption. The opportunity for the VMC ecosystem and societal benefits are massive.
How are you going to help VMC?
I provide strategic advice on partnerships, GoToMarket and interoperability that are required to support and scale a great customer experience.