Can Blockchain And LPWAN Fix The Problems Of Bike Sharing?

Sep 11, 2018

Bike sharing schemes were first introduced in the Dutch capital in Amsterdam. A Dutch anarchist group promoted the idea of communal bicycles that would be made available to the public to use free of charge.

The idea was an effort to reduce the number of cars on the road pummelling pollution into the atmosphere.

Over 50 years later, petrol-powered vehicles continue to dominate city environments. The roads are still congested. The air is still polluted. Bike-sharing may not have fulfilled the desire to clean up our cities but it has made the lives of millions a whole lot easier.

Although the concept of bike sharing is over a half a century old and is a triumph of today’s sharing economy ideal, the business model is bereft with problems.

Public bike-sharing firms barely cover their costs and with such a high number of bike thefts struggle to balance the books. Furthermore, cities have become a waste ground for abandoned cycles.

Company executives of bike-sharing companies are now looking towards blockchain technology to help resolve problems. But blockchain can only play a supporting role.

Low-power wide area networks are the missing piece that holds the solutions to the sharing economy. Fintechs such as MXC Foundation, that incorporates LPWAN networks, are the blockchain projects that will propel us into the future.

Blockchain In The Sharing Economy

Although blockchain networks are beginning to expand rapidly, applications within the sharing economy are rare. However, a growing number of developments across multiple industries is set to push the paradigm shift in a forward trajectory.

Disruptive technology is turning heads. As more companies come on board, we can expect to experience the capabilities of the blockchain at first hand. The bike-sharing community is a prime example.

1. Ofo

Several countries in Asia and Europe have recently announced they have adopted blockchain technologies. One of the largest projects will be undertaken by Ofo, China’s leading bike rental companies.

Ofo has defended its smartphone-based deckles business model over the years, yet has been quick to look for solutions under mounting pressure from city planners, the police and the general population.

The mounting problem with left behind Ofo bikes across China’s major cities led regulator’s to issue parking guidelines with the intention of encouraging people to park the bikes responsibly. The guidelines have largely been ignored.

This is not a problem that is local to China. Every city that has introduced bike-sharing programs face the same issue. Local governments subsequently ban bike-sharing companies from adding more bikes on the streets.

Ofo intends to resolve weaknesses in the bike-sharing model with blockchain. According to the company’s press release, researchers intend to implement a system that provides incentives together with facilitating big data and the IoT (Internet of Things).

2. oBike

Future bike-sharing models will offer cryptocurrency tokens. oBike, which is due to launch its own cryptocurrency oCoin next year, will also launch their project in Singapore.

Both blockchain projects incorporate digital payments whereby bike-sharing commuters in Singapore will be made to pay for rides using digital currencies stored on their smartphones.

oBike is partnering with blockchain platform Tron, a decentralised ledger which is primarily geared towards entertainment. Teaming up with oBike is an astute business model designed to encourage consumers to invest in the company’s cryptocurrency, Tronix.

3. U-Bicycle

U-Bicycle, a Shanghai-based bike-sharing company is also leveraging blockchain technology to expand its operations. The company intends to use blockchain’s decentralised ledger to store user-data. Public ledgers are a more secure way of storing data than a centralised ecosystem a private company offers.

4. Mobike

In a similar project, Mobike is working with think-tanks, universities, research institutes and the World Bank to harness the information bikes can provide about its users and the environment to better city planning.

Systems like these could effectively help to reduce carbon emissions, resolve the issue of abandoned bikes, and monetise bike-sharing companies that provide a public service that is invaluable to millions.

Blockchain Bike-Sharing Models Need LPWAN

In the current technological climate, sharing tons of data is very expensive. Developers working with LPWAN intend to change this. By using sensors instead of satellites it is possible to utilise inlicensed, free of charge refequencies that can ferry data across the world.

The issue with current bike-sharing systems is they use either 2G, 3G, or 4G networks, none of which are powerful enough to transfer vast amounts of data at the current cost of bike rentals.

MXC Foundation proposes a solution for this problem by deploying LPWAN which can transfer data in milliseconds for low costs. This will give companies the ability to increase revenue by transforming their bikes into data generators without breaking data privacy laws.

However, an issue with LPWAN field deployments is that the networks will become congested pretty quickly. It is anticipated there will be around 75 billion connected devices by 2020 all of which have greater demands than standard networks can cope with. e.g internet usage, videos and other media.

LTE networks already struggle to deliver high-speeds consistently when a huge volume of people are connected to it. When LTE networks have too many users, transaction times bloat from a few milliseconds to several minutes.

Communications companies have introduced ultra-fast 5G networks but they require millions of new tower cells — the cost of which is paid for by consumers.

In the current paradigm, the implementation of faster internet speeds for millions of users is not only thwarted on costs. The antenna have provoked concerns over potential health problems and are considered a blot on the landscape.

MXC Foundation has designed a protocol that bridges the gap between different gateways and channels traffic to networks that are less busy and otherwise going to waste — a shared LPWAN gateway model.

This removes device data transactions from networks like LTE and is capable of reaching areas where existing providers are not reliable.

Furthermore, MXC are developing an Anti-Collision Coordinator that facilitiates a smart bidding conscensus between parties, therefore, minimising the collision of uplinks in nearby parameters and allocates new resources for sensors or end devices to download links needed for the network to function.

The blockchain is on the verge of revolutionising the bike-sharing community. MXC’s LPWAN protocol takes the sharing economy to another level by providing speed and convenience end-users want, reducing the overheads and costs for companies and creating a network that can be managed by multiple, reliable sources.

Isn’t that the overall idea of bike-sharing in the first place!