Considered a disruptive technology because of the increasing realization of its ability to transform across multiple industries, blockchain removes any requirement for ‘middle men’ and reconciliation processes as it guarantees the validity of its data using shared infrastructure. At the point of creation, this data is recognised as valid by all parties and can’t be modified afterwards.
Blockchain lets transactions be stored securely and verified without any centralised authority. Data is instead validated by the network. Although, originally designed for digital currency, it also provides a solution to decentralize a wide range of applications. In fact, any service that requires a method to systematically record an event (such as ownership) could potentially benefit from blockchain.
For the telecoms sector, innovative solutions are starting to blossom, primarily in the business of IoT (Internet of Things). In these systems, blockchain can provide a way to trace the unique past of specific devices or networks and consequently enable detectable, independent and more importantly instant transactions using tailored ledger technology. Such ledgers would allow IoT devices to sell their data using micro transactions and enable pay per use models for a substantial group of IoT based services:
Industries to be transformed from Blockchain
- Voting Systems
- Prediction markets (forecasting)
- Loyalty and Rewards
- P2P payments & Lending
- Currency Exchange & International Money Transfer
- Proof of authorship & ownership
- Energy distribution
- Know Your Customer & Identification (Self-Sovereign identity)
- Data storage
- Proof of authenticity for luxury goods
In the not-too-distant future we are going to see changes in the ways in which operators handle roaming, billing, data distribution and payments using blockchain. Operators risk losing previous business in areas where blockchain could cause disruption, purely as a result of its drastic potential for innovation. Therefore, it is vital for the industry to monitor such development and to use this as an opportunity to innovate and detect such opportunities early.
Diverse and extensive business opportunies created by blockchain await the telecoms industry – specifically at network level. Aside from improving and innovating existing solutions, there is a completely separate type of solution that can be executed across networks by operators that are in layman’s terms on another level. Such opportunies will arise from an economy where: we are all consumers as well as service providers (apparently the new term for this is prosumer), subscriptions will likely be replaced by real-time pay-as-you-use models, mobiles will be used to carry out smooth and seamless transactions and independent IoT devices, partnerships between companies are created as decentralised organisations,
How Operators can benefit from Blockchain
The detection and prevention of fraud continues to be a hot and controversial topic for most service providers. Fraud costs the industry around USD 38 billion annually. The telecommunications sector hasn’t yet developed a way to effectually combat and prevent fraud. Blockchain may pave the way to oversee access to fraud detection information shared amongst operators. Likely to start at the point of sale, fraud has numerous techniques of cheating various operator systems. This is particularly true if different compliance rules another angle is fraud caused by delays in sharing CDR’s between operators. As blockchain works in
Another major advantage of blockchain is in wholesale roaming and interconnect billing. By letting customers to roam on each other’s networks, it provides a credible and essential service, however this would also need a lot of communication between operators. Storing customer data records in the way we do now is a very expensive process.
The banking sector is one of the first to begin innovating clearance and reconciliation processes based on blockchain technology. Operators use a similar process and consequently it’s worth streamlining the process through blockchain. Smart contracts could be drawn up with an attempt to enforce roaming agreements in real-time, using tokens or even cryptocurrencies to enable operators to reconcile over a private blockchain. The idea of one chain would involve managing the contracts together. Furthermore, as call data records are digital, they could be considered as actual blockchain items where in addition to other parties can have access to the ledger.
Then after a successful proof of concept, this solution can be applied to voice and SMS.
Distribution of Content
This would involve the direct delivery of content from providers such as film companies, (Disney, Universal Studios etc.) straight to customer devices through service providers, cutting out any middle men from the process.
The development of new smart cities requires new governance solutions to incorporate the internet of things. Blockchain technology can been seen as a building block for this and consequently enable future products and services to be secure, transparent and also provides an identity and payments layer to benefit from.
Work has already commenced on an insight platform based on blockchain to improve customer profiling across companies. User consent would be registered on the blockchain and this would enable advanced data-sharing concepts and targeting advertising models to become a reality.