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Automotive giant Toyota has laid out its vision for blockchain technology in the automotive industry, as part of a presentation to this year’s Consensus conference in New York.

The company, which had previously remained silent on its plans for the technology since joining the R3 consortium back in 2016, spoke to the potential of the technology to overhaul links in the automotive supply chain.

The Toyota Research Institute, an arm’s-length division of the company working on research and development, was also revealed to have been working on the technology for a number of months, in partnership with several others, including MIT Media Lab, Oaken Innovations, Commuterz and Gem.

Citing the origins of their exploration into the technology, chief financial officer Chris Ballinger described his ‘aha’ moment with blockchain, which opened his mind to the substantial potential for Toyota, and the wider car industry, from developing better blockchain systems.

“Everybody's journey has this common feature, they hear about it, they say how stupid, and then they meet someone who they respect and is smart and say maybe there's something more to this, and that they learn more ... My aha moment was that people use lots of things for money, there's lots of things people say are near-moneys. But basically in all those different types of money, there's only one that's a bearer instrument, and that's cash.

“The realization was the value was linked with the transaction, and this means that the transaction itself is a bearer instrument. And therefore all these problems tend to fall away, and it's all the other middlemen.”

Even beyond the automotive sector specifically, Ballinger views the technology as having potentially substantial implications for mobility, more widely defined.

Envisaged use cases including more effectively monetizing vehicles, interpreting traffic data in real time and even the resale of motoring data for advertising and development are among the most promising potential applications for the technology.

Having joined the R3 consortium of blockchain developers back in 2016, Toyota had been considered to be a background partner, with little clarification on its intentions with blockchain-based technologies.