Vodafone and Sumitomo partner for Economy of Things venture

Vodafone and international trading and business investment company, Sumitomo Corporation, have created a new, standalone business to drive the development of the Economy of Things. Within this global ecosystem, vehicles, devices and machines can interact and transact with each other via a secure digital platform, without human intervention, but with the owner in full control.

Devices, electric vehicles, smart street furniture, such as real-time information displays and machines connected to the platform, can be quickly verified as trustworthy and then automatically allowed to exchange and trade data and money over secure and encrypted connections.  

Under the agreement, Vodafone will transfer its new global Economy of Things platform, called Digital Asset Broker (DAB), as well as intellectual property, contracts, technology and software, into the new business. In turn, Sumitomo will invest in the new business and work with Vodafone to attract additional investors, partners, and customers. The initial shareholding of Vodafone and Sumitomo in the new venture will be 80 per cent and 20 per cent respectively and is subject to regulatory approval.

Vodafone established DAB last year to help extract value from connected devices. It initially launched a trial in which a connected electric vehicle (EV) communicates autonomously and securely with multiple charging points via the platform, removing the frustration of having to install multiple apps depending on the dozen or so EV charging providers a driver can use. 

Rather than build their own system, customers can use the platform to assign a unique digital identity to any device. This enables it to seamlessly communicate and transact securely with other devices, using blockchain technology, where the wallet and payment services are secured by the mobile SIM controlled by the user.


“Sumitomo is the ideal partner to help drive the Economy of Things and associated new business opportunities for us, our customers, and partners,” said Vodafone Business CEO, Vinod Kumar. “For example, a rental car could charge motorists on either a pay-as-you-drive or subscription basis; motorists [sic] of electric vehicles can receive real-time information on the availability of the nearest charging point and recharge effortlessly; and fleet management firms can automatically pay tolls.”


Both parties intend to rollout the DAB platform in a phased approach, initially targeting the automotive and transport sectors in Germany and the UK, and then other European countries and North America at a later date. The two companies will also look at forming a partnership with Sumitomo Corporation Group company, SCSK Corporation, to establish a presence in the Asian market, including Japan, with a long-term vision of entering the smart city business.


Today’s agreement builds on the strategic alliance agreed by Vodafone and Sumitomo in November 2020. The first joint investment project under this partnership was the creation of Safaricom Ethiopia, owned by an international consortium including Vodafone and Sumitomo, among other partners.