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Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, Vodafone trial blockchain for roaming payments

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Yesterday, settlement and clearing blockchain platform Clear released details of several trials conducted with Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica and Vodafone. The goal is to streamline commercial roaming processes between mobile operators.

Calculating inter-carrier payments is a cumbersome task. Companies need to record minutes spent by a customer on a roaming network, reconcile the data with its roaming partner and then send or receive payments. This is a mostly manual process and is prone to errors and inefficiencies. Blockchain can potentially streamline this process, and smart contracts can expedite the settlement between carriers.

“There is a huge amount of potential for blockchain to automate many of the industry’s manual processes, delivering signifcant benefts for companies and their customers,” said Eran Haggiag, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Clear.

Claiming itself to be blockchain agnostic, Clear says the industry could easily migrate to a different distributed ledger technology. Roaming is just one aspect of Clear’s solution. Other blockchain telecom projects include reducing settlement time for international voice traffic, a framework for on-demand-services such as 5G and combating fraud.

Meanwhile, each of the Clear’s trail partners is already exploring blockchain applications. Deutsche Telekom has partnered with South Korea’s SK Telecom for a blockchain digital identity project. It’s also one of the founding governing board members of distributed ledger Hedera Hashgraph. One of its most recent projects is the launch of German Blockchain Ecosystem (GBE), a marketplace for blockchain services.

Turning to Vodafone, perhaps its biggest claim to blockchain fame is as a member of Facebook’s Libra project. A few months ago, UK’s Vodafone joined IBM, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Lenovo, Nokia and Schneider Electric for a supplier management blockchain. The company also run a marketing campaign using blockchain to give away Apple products.

Just yesterday, Spain’s Telefonica announced it was developing a blockchain network for technology parks in the country. Telefonica participated in an earlier Proof of Concept with Clear when it trialed an inter-carrier settlement blockchain project along with other telcos including British Telecom and Telstra.

In June, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and several other global mobile carriers announced a telecoms consortium called Communications Blockchain Network (CBN). Its objective is to streamline the settlement process between carriers and is scheduled to launch later this year.

Another group working for cross-carrier blockchain solutions is the Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG) Consortium. Members include IBM, TBCASoft, Softbank and Sprint, among others. The group has developed a blockchain payments solution which is scheduled to go live in 2020.