Working with R3 – a partner’s-eye view: Jamie Solomon, EVP of Cario
Tell us a little about Cario and the problem the company aims to solve?
Jamie Solomon: Cario is a new startup that’s an offshoot of an established company called Rodo, a leading marketplace and trader in the US automotive sector. Cario was formed to help overcome the challenges that Rodo faced due to the slow pace of title transfer in the US, where it takes between 14 and 90 days for title to a vehicle to be passed across. Throughout that period, the capital outlaid to acquire the vehicle is essentially trapped. As a result, at any given time there’s between US$100 billion and $120 billion locked up in the US automotive market, waiting for a paper process born in the 1930s.
Cario aims to break this logjam by creating an entirely online digital experience that allows all participants – from consumers to dealers to lenders to insurance companies to salvage companies – to create, process and manage titles and registrations in an immediate fashion.
While payments still have to be processed and transferred, Cario can essentially take that 14 to 90-day process down to 90 seconds. We’re supported in our journey by Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase that are on our board, and on the automotive dealer side we have companies like Asbury Automotive Group providing insights into how this process should be constructed. We’ve built our solution, are ready to go into production, and are in the process of going to pilot in a couple of states.
Why did you decide to make Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) the basis for your solution…?
Jamie Solomon: We chose DLT because all the participants in the process need to see specific parts of the information, without it being made available to everyone. When titles and registrations are made today, only the people who can actually access that information are those that have rights to see it. The information is issued on a physical piece of paper that people hold. Now that the process is moving to a digital electronical source, we have to ensure that all of the data is safeguarded and kept private. DLT allows us to do that: for example it lets us allow Bank of America to see its own loans but not JP Morgan Chase’s. And it allows the State of Texas to see its own transactions but not New York’s.
…and why Corda in particular, having migrated from Hyperledger Fabric?
Jamie Solomon: I’ve been lucky enough to have been a Corda user for five-and-a-half years. In previous roles I’ve taken Corda into production at several large financial institutions across the world. It’s a great product and we’re looking forward to driving it into production shortly here at Cario. Incidentally, prior to my joining Cario, a decision was taken to base the newly instituted carrier on Hyperledger Fabric DLT. While this was successful, the reality is that there are roughly 102 million title transfers every year in the US. Given volumes at that level, and the stringent privacy requirements applying across the financial institutions, other commercial entities and state governments, we decided to reconsider the original decision and migrate to Corda for performance reasons.
I won’t go into an overall discussion of DLT performance. But Corda, in my experience, is the highest performing product on the market today – and performance is a key concern for us and our constituents. As we re-examined our requirements a little more closely after the original pilot and proof of concept, we factored in the fact that we anticipate having over 100 million active users on our platform. That’s not a good match for what Hyperledger Fabric allows for in its account structure, especially in terms of managing that level of user volume and transaction activity in a way that we felt comfortable bringing to the market. Also, Corda has a great reputation in the financial community. It brought a lot of comfort to our partners that we were going to use Corda as opposed to another product.
How was the experience of migrating from Hyperledger Fabric to Corda?
Jamie Solomon: To execute the migration we rewrote the application. While we kept the patterns that we had established, it was essentially a rewrite from ground up. To assist us through that journey, we got great support from R3’s professional services team, with the active involvement of senior leadership from day one. The team did an awesome job and gave us some great pointers and good ideas about the newer features included in the Corda release that we’re using.
We initially planned the migration to Corda with the intention of using open source ‘community’ Corda, for the simple reason that we’re a startup and money’s tight. We wrote our first MVP on the Community edition, but have since migrated to the Enterprise edition – and this was a relatively easy step to take. If we’re going to be selling and delivering into state governments or financial institutions, the enterprise requirements have to be met. So switching to Corda Enterprise made complete sense and was actually a very simple process. Again, having R3’s professional services team supporting us certainly made it even easier than it could have been.
Can you provide some more insight into the support you’ve received from R3 Professional Services during the migration?
Jamie Solomon: Absolutely. We signed up for a program R3 offers that’s essentially an extended architecture review and support process. So, as we undertook the migration from Corda Community to Enterprise, one of the leaders of the R3 professional services team spent around 80 hours with us over about a four-week period, as we undertook the migration and took advantage of all of the capabilities of Corda Enterprise. Our team is super-experienced, but the R3 PS team was able to point out some additional things that we didn’t know about in the newest release of Corda. Of course, that was extremely helpful as we did the migration.
Looking forward, as we migrate to production, we’re intending to engage R3 again on essentially a pre-production/deployment review, using DuploCloud as our DevOps provider. But even with DuploCloud on board, we’re looking forward to having R3 come in and review our deployment processes and practices. We want that little extra confidence you get from having a solid professional team that’s done this hundreds of times and does it day in and day out, to come in and give you that last bit of advice that makes you feel sure that you’ve got everything in place, and that all your I’s are dotted and your T’s are crossed. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with R3 as we complete our journey, hopefully in the next couple of months.
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