August 28, 2019

Is Smartcar an automotive data marketplace?

Sahas Katta

CEO + Co-Founder

We sometimes get asked: "Is Smartcar a data marketplace?" The answer is no.

Smartcar is an automotive developer platform. It is not an automotive data marketplace. It never has been one, nor will it ever become one.

We're used to getting asked whether Smartcar is a data marketplace. This question comes up from time to time in our meetings with customers, partners, OEMs, analysts, and VCs. It's a fair question to ask, as topics like data monetization have become a popular focus in the automotive tech world. However, it's important to understand the difference between a data marketplace and a developer platform.

What is an automotive data marketplace?

On any marketplace, there are sellers and buyers. The good being sold and bought on a data marketplace happens to be data. In the past few years, several well-funded companies have built marketplaces for car data. Those platforms, often also referred to as data exchanges, enable companies that generate automotive data sets to sell it to interested buyers.

More often than not, the automotive data that is being sold on these new types of marketplaces belongs to consumers who have unknowingly signed away their rights when using certain products and services. While some new platforms incorporate anonymization techniques before selling the data, there is still something fundamentally controversial about selling consumer data without giving consumers a choice and without being 100 percent transparent about it.

What is an automotive developer platform?

Empowering developers

A developer platform is fundamentally different from a data exchange. It is a collection of tools and resources for software engineers to easily integrate with a family of products. For example, Stripe makes it easy for developers to integrate with every credit card processor. Plaid makes it easy for developers to integrate with any bank. Smartcar makes it easy to integrate with any car.

We provide developers with friendly API documentation and SDKs to integrate mobility apps with cars of any brand. Without our platform, developers would have to spend months building dozens of custom integrations for each and every car brand.

Developer platforms do not facilitate letting companies sell their customer data to others. Neither does Smartcar.

Empowering consumers

Apart from offering resources to software engineers, developer platforms also empower consumers to choose the apps they want to use and to consent to specific permissions. At Smartcar, we let vehicle owners link their cars to the apps of their choice, and we let them review a specific set of permissions for each app (e.g. vehicle location, odometer, fuel tank level).

Smartcar is not a data marketplace

Here's what we say when companies reach out to us with the following questions:

  • "Can we buy vehicle data from Smartcar?" - No.
  • "Can you send us a car's location or odometer if we provide a VIN?" - No.
  • "Does Smartcar sell bulk vehicle data sets?" - No.
  • "How about anonymous data sets, are those for sale?" - No.
  • "Has Smartcar ever sold customer data in the past?" - No.

Smartcar's mission is to empower developers to build the future of mobility. We believe that the best products do not come at the cost of consumer privacy. This is why Smartcar is a developer platform.

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