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Softbank, TBCASoft’s telecom consortium working on blockchain mobile payments


Recently, members of the Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG) consortium participated in a workshop for using blockchain developer TBCASoft’s Cross-Carrier Payment System (CCPS) platform. The workshop was held to demonstrate the commercial-use case of CCPS for mobile payments.

This would enable phone users to use mobile wallets while roaming with payments settled through their local phone company bill. The telecom service providers would settle up with each other using the CCPS. The mobile wallet use case is expected to launch in 2020.

“Our Consortium members have a great opportunity to differentiate their solutions, such as a mobile wallet service, with a Cross-Carrier/Border capability that seamlessly expands their market,” said Daichi Nozaki, VP Global Business of SoftBank Corp, and Co-Chairman of the CBSG Consortium.

“That means a Consortium member’s subscriber can use their home mobile wallet to make transactions at the merchants acquired by another Consortium member without having to adopt another mobile wallet.”

In the telecom space, there is a lot of shared bandwidth between the carriers. For example, when a customer is roaming, their telecom company has to pay to use the infrastructure of another carrier. Blockchain is being used to eliminate the cumbersome process of data reconciliation and expedite payments between service providers.

The CBSG Consortium was launched in 2017 to develop a blockchain platform for telecom carriers. TBCASoft and Japan’s SoftBank lead the initiative. U.S.-based Sprint and Taiwan’s Far EasTone Telecom were its initial founding members. CBSG aims to provide telecom members and their customers a variety of services. These include secure global digital payments, clearing and settlement, personal ID authentication and others.

In the early days of the internet, telecoms companies thought they would grab a much larger slice of the market than just bandwidth. At the dawn of the blockchain era, the group has a similar expectation. Because they already have a billing relationship with their customers, they’re hoping they can gain a large piece of the mobile wallet market.

They’re up against stiff competition in China from the likes of WePay and Alipay. And in the West from Paypal and subsidiaries like Venmo. Of course, there’s the potential challenge of Facebook’s Calibra wallet.

The telcos also believe they can become major players in digital identity. A few months ago Softbank and TBCASoft announced the launch of the “Identification & Authentication” Working Group led by the two companies. TBCASoft created a Carrier Identification System (CCIS) framework based on blockchain to enable consumers to share and verify identities without revealing personal information.

At present, CBSG boasts a strength of 15 members — SoftBank, TBCASoft, Far EasTone, Sprint, GT Telecom, Axiata, Etisalat, LG U+, KT Corp, MTN, PLDT, Telin, Turkcell, Viettel and Zain.

In June, another telecom consortium ITW Global Leaders’ Forum introduced the Communications Blockchain Network. Slated for a launch later this year, it plans to streamline the settlement process between telecoms carriers with automated billing applications.

Big names have invested in the platform including China Telecom, Colt, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica, Telstra, TNZI, and others.

Last year, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom banded together to create the Trusted Blockchain Telecom Application Group. It offers solutions like Blockchain as a Service, IoT logistics traceability, inter-operator clearing, and business operation support, amongst others.

All of South Korea’s major telecoms companies are working on a blockchain-based identity service. That includes SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ along with Samsung, KEB Hana Bank, Woori Bank and IT company Koscom. The firms are building a self-sovereign identity (SSI) app to allow users to manage their personal information.