Vodafone Group moved its nascent Digital Asset Broker (DAB) platform into a standalone business and signed a deal with investor Sumitomo Corporation to take a minority stake in the venture, as part of a move to drive the so-called economy of things.

The new business will initially target the automotive and transport sectors in Germany and the UK before setting its sights elsewhere in Europe and into North America.

Vodafone’s DAB platform is designed to identify and verify connected assets including electric vehicles and smart street infrastructure. It can then enable secure exchange of data over encrypted connections.

Use cases include secure payments related to hire cars, easing of electric car recharging by providing real-time availability information and automatic toll payment for fleet management companies.

In addition to the platform itself, Vodafone will transfer related IP, technology and software into the new business. Initially the operator will own an 80 per cent stake and Sumitomo the remainder, subject to regulatory approval.

The pair plan to eventually attract new investors, partners and customers into the venture.

In its statement, Vodafone raised the prospect of a future partnership with one of Sumitomo’s affiliates targeting markets in Asia.

The venture is the latest association between the companies, which have a strategic alliance in place.

As part of this, Sumitomo was one of the backers for Vodafone and its affiliates’ move into Ethiopia, which eventually launched under the Safaricom brand in the country.