To wrap up season two, we are joined by no other than David Palmer – Blockchain Lead IoT at Vodafone Business to find out how Blockchain and web3 technologies are bringing trust and payments to billions of IoT devices and paving the way for the Economy of Things!⛓️🔒 🚗 💳 📲
Sit back, relax, tune in and be the first to discover…
- David’s background in IoT and his journey to Vodafone 💳
- Where is the industry at with Blockchain and IoT convergence? 🚗
- What has Vodafone been doing to innovate Blockchain and IoT? What use cases have emerged? ⛓️
- What is the Vodafone Digital Asset Broker Platform? 💳
- What is the Economy of Things? 🚗
- What are the opportunities for Blockchain in the Metaverse?⛓️
And much more!
ABOUT THE GUESTS
David Palmer is Blockchain Lead IoT at Vodafone Business. Working in the blockchain industry for over a decade, David has been instrumental in driving blockchain and IoT innovation at Vodafone.
Connect with David on LinkedIn – Here.
Find out more about Vodafone Business and the Digital Asset Broker – Here.
Brad King-Taylor 0:37
Hello, welcome to The IoT Podcast. I’m your host for today Brad King-Taylor. Today I’m really excited. I don’t think we could have had a better participant in the final episode of season two. We’re lucky enough to be joined by the Blockchain lead from Vodafone, David Palmer. Obviously, before we get into this, whatever platform you’re watching or listening on, please subscribe to the channel because it will give you all the relevant information on when the new episodes and the new season is coming. David, great to have you on the podcast. Thank you so much for coming in. How are things?
David Palmer 1:07
Very good. Thank you very exciting times in the UK and indeed the rest of the world for technology. So yeah, very good.
Brad King-Taylor 1:14
Yeah. Well, we off just off camera we were talking about the the bank holiday next week and and our plans and stuff. So it’s nice to have a long weekend and to celebrate the queen, I suppose is always nice as well. So let’s get straight into it.David for the for the listeners point of view, can you just give us an overview of your background in IoT, up until your current position as the blockchain leader Vodafone Business?
David Palmer 1:36
Sure. So I started in IoT in 2010, helped to build the Vodafone Global Data Services Platform, otherwise known as DSP. It is currently one of the leading blockchain platforms in the world has been voted. So for the last, I think, eight years by Gartner. And I’ve been involved in all aspects of that from sort of design, to, to sort of front end to billing to device devices. So bit over all of it. I mean, we started as a very small team. But yeah, and watched it grow from very few devices to now having over 150 million connections as of last week, yep.
Brad King-Taylor 2:22
That mental 250 isn’t it, and that’s just gonna keep going and growing and growing. What did you What did you do before you’re at Vodafone?
David Palmer 2:29
So I was a consultant in a previous life. But mainly around telco. So I was involved in SPSL, ADSL rollout, satellite broadband fibre to the premises, I always tended to get the projects which were sort of cutting edge at the forefront of things. I remember rolling out ADSL with BT.
Brad King-Taylor 2:55
So always been the one to go to for the cutting edge.
David Palmer 2:59
And I don’t know, I think I’ve done something wrong going in life.
Brad King-Taylor 3:05
I like the way you called it a previous life before. Yeah, you don’t want to hear that. But what you must be excited about what you do, which is good. So let’s set the scene then. So where do you think we are at the moment with blockchain and the IoT convergence, sorry?
David Palmer 3:19
Yeah, so So I think I think we’re, we’re at a good point. So as you intermited, there- IoT numbers are growing the number of devices, I always use the stat 70 billion IoT devices by 2025. I don’t know if we’ll get there. But I think we’ll get to 70 billion devices in the next five to seven years. And I’ve also seen sort of forecasts that estimate that the sort of opportunity in terms of economy of things, IoT payments, could be as much as 1 trillion by 2034. So so so I think what that’s indicating, is that IoT is growing, right? And it’s growing. at a massive scale. One of the issues you have with IoT is, you know, devices being siloed. So, if a company organisation owns devices, they don’t generally speak to other devices, they can’t interact. So that’s the problem. And the other one is data. So you know, I’m hearing stats that as much as 75% of the IoT data data generated isn’t used. That could be because that data has a real time via a near real time value. And you need to be able to interoperate with with another device or another part of the ecosystem to do it.
But I think on the positive side, IoT is growing, the number of devices are growing, we’re connected, it’s generating data, and that is a massive opportunity in terms of blockchain. Pretty interesting that despite the past two or three weeks where we’ve seen a massive dip in crypto prices and we’re just actually follow tech stocks. But there’s been a massive dip. There’s been the issue with stable coins with UDT usdt. But in saying that, you know, a bitcoin is still worth over 500 billion US dollars, and it’s still in the top 10 global assets. And Aetherium is maybe in the top 20 or 30 global assets. So both of them together are sort of bigger than a lot of the carriers. And, and the maturity and adoption has has grown remarkably. So if you, if you look at if you look at some stats, I think there’s over 80 countries now working on Central Bank, digital digital currencies, I think in terms of crypto, the market is the crypto market is 3 trillion. Now, I think those are 3 trillion transactions. And NFTs, there is for over 40 billion locked in defi or two is a 240 billion locked in defi protocols. And so so the stats are absolutely massive for adoption. And I think that’s, that’s evidenced in the fact that my mother now has a crypto wallet, right.
So if you look at it, you’ve got two big factors, you’ve got a massively growing IoT sort of market, an ecosystem of devices that need to trust each other that will get value from transacting. And then you’ve got blockchain, which is trust, you know, which is a trust, which is an enabler for trusted ecosystem growing massively. And when you put them together, you can see that blockchain could provide the Trust for devices to be able to open up a new form of economy and business model.
Brad King-Taylor 6:47
Yeah, and I mean, it’s something that we talk about on the podcast all the time. So things are always growing, the numbers are just becoming absolutely crazy. I’ve just written down a question for you. But I’ll ask it at the end, because I’m keen to stick with with the Blockchain and the IoT conversation for a minute. So I’m intrigued to get a bit more understanding on how Vodafone are innovating blockchain and IoT, and what sort of use cases that you have emerged recently.
David Palmer 7:14
Yeah. So really, again, really, really good question really timely. So on the 28th of February, Nick Reed are CEO announced our Digital Asset Broker platform, which is a platform that converges, capabilities in IoT and blockchain. And we call it an economy of things platform, because what I was getting at before is the internet of things, in my view, is about connecting devices and producing data, digital twinning, etc. And that has been very useful in things like supply chain logistics, etc. And where and where the data is needed to feed into a company’s business model themselves, so they can get it, we can have cold storage, we can have informed supply chains, etc.
But it seems that the power of the Internet of Things is where you start introducing interoperability. So this is where devices can speak with other devices. This is where devices can sell data, real time, etc. And the digital asset broker platform that we’ve developed over the last four years and Vodafone does that. So there’s sort of three main components to it. One of them is a device, IoT device passport. So this is providing an interoperable ID for a device. And that allows every device to speak to other devices on our decentralised network. And that is really important because it opens up the ecosystem, and it opens up the near real near real time transaction for data or services that I mentioned earlier. The other thing we do is provide the ability to authenticate and fight on the device. So this is where we’re leveraging the sort of telco cryptography that’s been developed over years and scalable. And and this is where we have a right to play because essentially, you know, we leverage cryptography in the SIM card, so either public private key cryptography, or, or symmetric key cryptography for for legacy systems.
But the bottom line is that we allow a device to have a digital signature, which is initiated from the device from the SIM in the device. And that is important because then you have a device that has an identity, which allows it to speak to other devices. But you’re also have a device that can find things on behalf of the owner. Right. So then you’re getting into key enablers to the economy of things and then you’re seeing okay, if you can find things, how you going to transact. So we’ve also built as part of the solution, a sim Wallet. So a wallet application that works with the sim that can basically link into other wallets other to other forms of payment types. And we link that to smart contract technology on the platform. So you put all of those things together, you have a device with an identity with a signature, that can have a transaction automatically executed on the blockchain using a smart contract. And it has the payment potential on the device to pay for it. So that is, that is in record time, a description of the Vodafone Digital Asset Broker Platform.
Brad King-Taylor 10:29
It was record time, I don’t know where to go now. So I’m gonna go to the one that I wrote down because you’ve mentioned the word interoperability. But one of the questions I had for you. And what you’re looking at the moment is, I want your thoughts on the interoperability between Apple, Google and Microsoft. Now, the reason I asked that question is because it comes up on a few of the latest podcasts I’ve been doing. I’m sceptical, but I can’t see how these big massive egos if you like, or companies are going to are going to merge in and join together on the style that you mentioned. So I’m keen to understand your thoughts and what you think about that.
David Palmer 11:08
It’s a really good, good question. And I suppose we don’t know what the outcome of it will be. I mean, what I say is that you’ve gotten a battle, not just in IoT, but in a lot of spaces between what we call web two and web three. So web two is mobile, it’s where you have one company that will essentially own the ecosystem and the data and monetize the data. And then web three is a decentralised sort of heart of techno technological enabler, which basically means that, you know, it levels the field this be access for, for other players, and you don’t have the concentration of power and monetization in one hand. So So I think in terms of what you’re describing there, it sounds like, like a sort of agreement between three parties, I’m forgetting the economic term for the cartel, maybe, maybe the term for it, to sort of look at this, but the approach we’re taking is really to have a decentralised core asset broker.
So that means that anyone who joins, you know, can interoperate with each other using the IoT passport. It also means that they own their data. So this sort of they data ownership devices are there, but we have the means for that to be brokered and exchanged on the platform. So it’s a decentralised approach versus a sort of centralised or oligopoly type approach where there’s a few players. And I think that’s, that seems to be where it’s going. I can’t comment specifically on on Google, Apple, etc. But I think in the web two model would probably be hard for them to coexist in the way you described. But in a web 3 model, you know, in sort of model, that digital asset broker, our platform is is his enabling, then they could coexist, because you have the trust of the blockchain. And you have a universal standard for device identity and of interoperability. But it is a good question and how this plays out whether we have a web two for the foreseeable future, or whether we go web three is going to be interesting.
Brad King-Taylor 13:22
Yeah, and I tend to agree, I can just see it, causing arguments, really, about who does what. So it’d be interesting to see that you’ve touched on the digital assets broker a couple of times, and you’ve spoke about the transition of certain things, as well. So I’m keen to touch on that a little bit more. So the transition of the Internet of Things and the economy of things that you mentioned, what blockchain as a whole, what role is that playing in in that specific transition?
David Palmer 13:49
Yeah, it’s playing the role of trust. Yeah, and I think we overcomplicated blockchain because of the use cases. So the first use case was cryptocurrency, which was Bitcoin, then we had sort of smart contracts and to an extent identity with Aetherium. But all of those are basically new leveraging blockchain to provide the trust, right, which is which is a solar powered using what we call a consensus protocol. So you have immutability timestamp and and a sort of decentralised ledger of records, and essentially allows people to trust each other. So in the transition from the Internet of Things to the economy of things, what we have is a Trusted Identity in the blockchain, because all of the identities are logged in the blockchain. You know, you have the basis for for trust for for for equality and trust of devices. The other thing that it’s sent to me is providing is the ability for transactions. So a record of transactions to be hashed and written to the blockchain. So essentially, you can trust each other because you know that that record is there and can be settled leader, but also the possibility for peer to peer transaction. So if you have two organisations that are hosting those on a blockchain, then why can’t they have peer to peer transactions, we still need to go through traditional payment rails which are cheaper, faster, depending on what blockchain you have. So if you go with Aetherium, now, it won’t be cheaper and faster. But there are many other layer two protocols of which DAP is one where you can have very low, low cost transactions. And that has always been the challenge we’ve had in IoT, which is, you know, and blockchain and why, why it’s taken so long to do this. Right? It’s because of scale. Because the sheer amount seven, you just think, by seven years, 70 billion transactions, there’s a billion people in the world. It’s a huge amount of transactions. So, you know, if you don’t have scale, and you don’t have low cost than it won’t be a goal of IoT. So that’s the key thing that I think robotics is bringing It’s trust, and capability for peer to peer.
Brad King-Taylor 16:05
Yeah, and trust comes up quite a lot in a lot of different things. So we we work closely with IoT security foundation. And that’s all about trusting what you’re working with and understanding the security of it. You mentioned, I suppose not all of these things are simple and straightforward. You mentioned scale was one of the challenges. Is there any other key challenges you would say within blockchain? And and how are we looking to overcome those?
David Palmer 16:27
Yes, I mean, I think there are a number of challenges. Number one, the technology is new. So you’ve got two new forms of technology, which are trying to sort of come together to sort of form a new innovative solution. The other one, I think we hit on with the Google, Microsoft, and Apple, which is, you know, you’re trying to introduce a decentralised technology in a world where people generally understand centralised web two technologies. And that is difficult because it’s difficult to understand the control point, it’s difficult to understand the revenue models, the sort of business models associated with it. So it’s, you know, and essentially, you end up sort of merging the two in some in some sort of way. But but that that is definitely one of them. I think the other the other one is sort of just changing perceptions. So we’ve chosen to use a layer one, blockchain technology, which is what we call channel based. So it doesn’t have a proof of work or proof of stake, consensus protocol. So proof of work especially involves mining. But you know, with a lot of the perceptions from people that we we speak to about the platform is okay, is this bad for the environment? You know, are you going to do a lot of mining? Is there a negative impact? And we’ve got to explain that. So there’s also a perception issue. Also, is it a cryptocurrency platform? Are you doing Bitcoin? So I think that that is something that that you’ve got to deal with? That I think I think it’s, you know, the key ones are scale. And also the sort of, because the technology is so new, the difficulty not having a president for established presidents for for implementing it. So you’ve got to, you’ve got to really search for talent, to to implement it.
Brad King-Taylor 18:24
Yeah. And I think that’s it that kind of goes across a lot of different things. We obviously we speak to a lot of new companies, startup companies, not all of them succeed. And sometimes you can put that down to understanding I think you pointed out earlier, the reason why it’s such a big thing for you is because your mum that has a crypto. So there is a big thing is understanding. And I think understanding can be linked back to a lot of different things, a lot of different technologies. Maybe even an essence of free being afraid of it fear. So yeah, it’s a really good point. What opportunities are there for blockchain there? Especially let’s say for other new technologies, like we look at things like the metaverse, what opportunities are blockchain? Got there, for instance?
David Palmer 19:06
Yeah. So with the metaverse, but very, very interesting. So I was on LinkedIn posting about this, and I think there was one so we had JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley. And I think another one, another company, Motley Fool, who both gave projections about, you know, the face of the metaverse over the next 10 years. And the sort of sizing of the opportunity range from 10 trillion US dollars to 30 trillion US dollars. And I found that quite significant. At the moment, obviously, the focus is on, you know, interactive gaming, etc. But when you think about it, you know, one of the main functions of IoT is about digital twins. It’s about bringing real world data. And when you look at how essentially you could have a Metaverse supply chain, you know, that would need to either start with an order in the metaverse and end up with a delivery in the real world.
Or it starts with an order in the real world, which starts with ends up with a delivery of that supply in the metadata, which could be data which is produced by IoT. So I think I think from from a, from that perspective, massive opportunity for the metaverse, although we’ve got to determine which one there’s going to be a lot of them. So there’s a massive opportunity there. But I also think that there’s a big opportunity for IoT, because I think the business models in the metaverse will require that digital twin and relate to devices in the real world to provide information and data that feeds into the metaverse.
Brad King-Taylor 20:49
Yeah, yeah. I mean, the manifest is one of those things that just keeps coming up, right that there’s two buzzwords at the moment in in the world on LinkedIn, especially as Metaverse or 5g. They seem to be the two boomers. Touching on that those are blockchain aside, let’s have a little bit of an insight into you, David, what technology excites you the most outside of blockchain? Is there anything in particular you think you know what, that could be huge, or something that you’re using all day, every day that?
David Palmer 21:18
Sort of so 5g excites me because of the things that can power including the metaverse including autonomous level five, you know, I mean, I mean, that’s going to really change the world. I mean, a lot of the things we’re discussing are not possible without 5g. So it’s a foundational technology, which is going to be critical. But but some of the things that excite me most are things like digital identity, which started link on blockchain, but decentralised digital identity hasn’t taken off yet.
But it will, I think a lot of the major governments and stakeholders are looking into it, but essentially a decentralised digital identity drives the power of your identity and your credentials, including payment, including your boating, driving all of these things into the power of the into the control of the person who then give, you know, stakeholders or interested parties, the right to view those verify credentials. So for example, I was in Portugal over the weekend, and, and I went in to rent a car, so I did everything online, and showed my driver’s licence, everything on my and then you get there and you do it all again, and they type it in there. And then he looked at it, and all the rest of it but but in a sort of world where you have a sort of self sovereign digital identity, I would basically just make my my verified driver’s licence light licence verified by the DVLA available to anyone who wants to see it as well as my bank statements as well as my credit score.
And what that actually means when you multiply forward is a massive change from the current customer experience models and business models we have now, which are trust less, which means everything is checks, you go into the supermarket, you pick it up, somebody checks it, you go to rent a car, you have a check before you leave and after you leave, you go to travel, you show your passport and boarding things five times to one where is trusted. And when you get into the world of trust with the blockchain powers, no and you have these verifiable credentials, then you can see yourself walking through border control because you’ve given them access to your biometrics and your passport. You go into a car you just drive off you go into a store, you pick something up you walk out and that’s because your identity is known your know your payment credentials are known you can be trusted and I think that this will revolutionise you know, the use and benefit of these technologies like blockchain, digital identity, AI biometrics 5g to ordinary people, because you know, the friction that you currently have in your user journeys, your customer journeys, your everyday life will change to a trusted experience and it’s gonna it’s gonna be amazing. I mean, I go in the store now and because I’m sort of a futurist, I’m saying, Okay, why am I going to distil? Why am I checking this? Why can’t I just, you know, but but this, this technology will power that. So that’s one that really excites me. The other one is tokenization, right? I’m really, really excited about NF T’s. I think NF T’s are like that bridging this gap of digital ownership. And, and when you sort of look at that, you know, being able to own assets in the game, and then spend it on another platform or spend it on social media, and the fact that social media are now sort of embracing NFTs, which is one form of what we call a non fungible token is massive, but then you start to see NFT’s being used for ticketing events, so rather than buying a ticket, you buy an NF t so you get something that could be sold afterwards, too. You’ll see them being used for airline tickets. You know, there’s, you’re already seeing it for other music So I’m seeing endless possibilities with NFT’s that really excites me. And then obviously AI, which is on the back of everything. So yeah, I mean, those things excite me. And also, I think now these these technologies are getting to a stage where they’re starting to be used and implemented. And it should be an interesting five years.
Brad King-Taylor 25:22
Yeah, wait. Yeah, I mean, it’s huge. And it just sounds like you’re just a general person is excited about all technologies to be fair. And I think AI and machine learning are two things that are growing quite, quite a lot. I mean, we were talking podcast yesterday with robotics. So I’m quite excited about the whole robotics thing and what that become, I know, there’s a lot of scepticism iRobot, for instance, taking them up taken over the world. But I learned a lot more about robotics yesterday in terms of it actually creates more jobs as well as taking them away. And we I mean, we seen a robot yesterday playing Snakes and Ladders, like, what on earth is happening in this world? It’s a very well to be building. It’s crazy. That before we sign off, then let’s get a little bit more specific. Going back to what it is you do the blockchain are going to put you on the spot a little bit and ask for a recent specific example of how blockchain has been applied to an IoT situation.
David Palmer 26:18
And actually, that’s a really good question, because I didn’t ask for your answer your question on use cases, like that can be combined with a broker has a blockchain core decentralised core to it. But but one of the use cases that we announced was EB charging, so So you think, you know, and it’s just trying to find a use case that has real relevance. So, so most of these kinds of countries, most developed countries have had these impossible targets of, you know, in the next five years, you know, we want 50% EVs, you know, stop selling them after 10 years. And so some really challenging targets, you know, for for environmental reasons to switch from fossil fuels to electronic vehicles. So there’s a lot of attention there. And some of the questions you’re being asked is, okay, how, how will you get enough charges? You know, how will you? What will the forecourt of the future look like, because they are charging, if you don’t have the sort of high power charges can take hours, the high, the high powered ones can take 15 minutes, but it’s not put the pump in and pump it and you go, also, charging won’t be done necessarily a poor cord, they may be done at home or in offices or shopping malls. Yeah. And also, you know, how do you have the customer experience, right? How can you also take advantage of the customer experience, so we’ve applied the digital asset broker to EV charging.
So in this case, when we start with the identity, we provide interoperable identity to the car, we provide an interoperable identity to the EV charger, we provide a key signing capability digital signature for the car, we provide one to the Evie charger, we provide a wallet to both. And essentially, you have the basis there for commerce for commerce. So essentially, where the car in this Evie charging solution pulls up to a charger, you know, it’s known, it’s trusted, you have one touch, because we haven’t moved to wireless chargers yet where the nozzle goes in the car. And obviously the there’s an identity check and authentication, you know, and afterwards, there’s a automatic payment. Now the key thing that we’ve done here is that we’ve, the payment is coming from the car to the charger, not from a person’s payment credential to the charger.
So we’ve aimed it at Fleet companies, where essentially, you can you can have a sort of blockchain sort of based fee card, which is which is linked to the car identity. And then essentially, you can authenticate using digital identity of the person, multiple drivers and their credentials. So in this case, you’d be looking for big companies to be able to authenticate multiple drivers to where you have a temporary driver, they can be authenticated using a fee, credential, authenticated using a teacher mentor, and also have make sure they’ve got a valid driver’s licence, those two things would allow them to use the payment credential in the car and we sort of flipped it using Blockchain for the trust to follow the digital identity smart contract to trigger the payment from the car. And we’re finding that this is you know, in the trial we have in our head obviously Newbury is having a sort of seamless pitch in the starting experience. So really exciting. But but that is, it wouldn’t be possible without the blockchain because blockchain is providing the trust between all of them, and the interoperability across devices, in this case, charges and
Brad King-Taylor 29:49
Yes, really interesting. I’m really relevant obviously being what it is electric vehicles and the crazy world we live in where we’re paying hundreds and hundreds of pounds to do anything right now is madness. Last question, which kind of relates back to the car? And it can be as simple as yes or no, if you want to go a bit more depth is driverless taxis. Yes or no? Your fan? Not a fan? Yeah, Does it scare you?
David Palmer 30:12
I’m a fan. I’m a fan where you don’t mix the two. So what were the we’re, we’re the ones who make it dangerous because we’re unpredictable, especially drivers like me, because I don’t know what I’m gonna do. But I think there is, I think we’re moving from a world of car owners to car users. And I think people are increasingly going to buy rights or use of a car when they want it, rather than have a car sitting in the driveway 90% of the time on use, I think we also need to go from shared mobility. I mean, this is one of the things that inspired me, not to sort of look for interoperability and more efficiency of IoT devices. I mean, you just need to be at home as we were for the past two years with COVID.
And you’ll have, you know, five or six, Amazon drivers come to come to your door, or whoever you’re buying from. But you know, they go back half empty, and there’s six of them coming at the same time. Why didn’t one cup, but it’s because they don’t interoperate, or they don’t interoperate. So having shared mobility and, and sort of autonomous vehicles should bring a lot of efficiency. And I’m really excited about that. But I don’t think the AI is quite there yet to deal with humans. So as long as we’re out of the equation, absolutely. excited about it. And of course, 5g is going to be a critical is a critical enabler of that.
Brad King-Taylor 31:34
Yeah, yeah. I could literally sit here and talk to you all day. But it’s been really insightful. And I think there’s a lot of exciting stuff to touch on on this. And, and it looks like blockchain has been a massive part in that. And I worry that I’ll be speaking on behalf of a lot of people watching this. Thank you, for everything that you’ve done in terms of that, because it sounds like a lot of the stuff that you’ve done, or being part of this is going to be a huge influence on a lot of things. So thank you.
David Palmer 32:01
Pleasure to be on. Thank you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to join I really enjoyed the conversation. So if you want to find me, David, you look at David Palmer Vodafone or David Palmer blockchain. I should come up there and yeah, happy to live with interested people and then learn from you and have conversations. And of course, yeah, to the Vodafone channels. You can reach me as well or reach some of the people.
Brad King-Taylor 32:25
Good, good, good. We’ll catch up soon. But honestly, David, it’s been a real pleasure. And we are excited to have you.
David Palmer 32:32
Thank you. Thank you.
Brad King-Taylor 32:34
No worries. Thank you. Please make sure you like and subscribe to the podcast. Obviously. We’re really excited about the new season coming up. And who knows there could be some changes on the horizon. It doesn’t matter how you connect it. Just be connected. Thank you, and until next time, and until next season. I’ve been your host Brad