Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Ernst Young (EY) have developed a blockchain-based platform to enable high-value assets to be more easily shared between businesses.\nIn a proof of concept conducted earlier this year, CBA and EY built a dashboard \u2018built on blockchain technology\u2019 to manage and display data from a crop sprayer fitted with IoT sensors.\n \nIn the experiment, it was imagined that the crop sprayer was co-owned by three farmers.\n \n\u201cManaged through smart contracts, the platform aimed to enhance trust and transparency of asset availability to all participants by integrating smart-lock functionality that could be automatically locked or unlocked when a payment is made,\u201d the bank said. \u201cThis would enable assets to be easily shared without requiring any intervention from the owner.\u201d\n \nThe intention is for the dashboard to enable \u201cfractional ownership\u201d of assets that ultimately manage themselves. Agriculture is particularly ripe for such platforms given that assets like tractors and sprayers are expensive, and not often used for much of the year, the bank said.\n \n\u201cOwners often pay big money upfront for the asset, but it causes a drag on profit margins if it lies idle, waiting to be used. In farming, we know it\u2019s very common for specialised and expensive equipment to be underutilised for much of the year,\u201d said Tim Harvey, CBA\u2019s general manager of strategy, innovation and operations for regional agribusiness banking.\n \nNo caption\nCBA first hinted it was exploring self-managing assets and machines late last year. The bank envisages a future \u2018machine-to-machine (M2M) economy\u2019 in which assets not only have their own bank accounts to pay for part sand maintenance, but can also be leased by the hour.\nThe M2M economy, will be \u201cespecially significant\u201d for agriculture, the bank says, adding that it has identified 20 use cases for experimentation.\n \nCBA is working with EY\u2019s Paul Brody to develop its approach to M2M. Brody was a lead onIBM\u2019s ADEPT(Autonomous Decentralised Peer-to-Peer Telemetry) project, which used blockchains as ledgers for transactions between devices.\n \nThe project created semi-autonomous appliances that could perform predictive maintenance, then use a virtual \u201cwallet\u201d to order parts and supplies.\n \n\u201cThe interplay between blockchain, smart contracts and IoT with high-value assets is a significant development towards maximising the value that businesses get out of their assets. By developing a platform that offers fractional ownership as well as a sharing marketplace, customers will be able to reduce costs of asset ownership and maximise utilisation,\u201d said Brody, now global innovation leader, blockchain technology at EY, said.\n \nReap what you share\n \nThe platform is part of a wider smart asset experiment currently underway by CBA. The bank has also been working with three real-life farmers in South Australia, who together bought a tractor to be used between them.\n \nThe farmers formed a legal entity under which they could share the finance and ownership of the new tractor, and fitted it with sensors that provide data on its usage and maintenance status.\n \nHowever, the data captured was difficult to scrutinise.\n \n\u201cOriginally, we had a data capturing system that was fairly weak and very clunky, to the point we weren\u2019t using it. To extract that data and develop it, we needed assistance,\u201d said one of the Tintinara farmers, Andrew Johnson.\n \nCBA's Corey Barlow-Jensen, farmer Andrew Johnson and CBA Emerging Technology manager Andrew Despi.\nCBA assigned team members from its Daily IQ dashboard for retailers, to build a dashboard that better presented the available tractor data.\n\u201cIn particular, the people at CommBank assisted in making the data readable and usable, by working out a way to harness the variable data inputs \u2013 and make sense of what they were telling us,\u201d said Johnson, who runs diversified family farming operation, the Mt Boothby Pastoral Company.\n \n\u201cWe were then able to bring that back in to make decisions on how we operated the machines,\u201d he added.\n \nThe approach has created something of a stir within the SA farming community.\n \n\u201cInitially we heard \u2018that won\u2019t work\u2019 hellip; now we\u2019re at the point where we get calls asking to be involved or how you go about setting these types of things up. While change is hard to take, they\u2019re prepared to listen and watch \u2013 I guess there are lots of people watching where we are at the moment,\u201d Johnson said.