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Samsung SDS, Syniverse collaborate for blockchain mobile payments

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Yesterday, Samsung SDS and telecommunications service provider Syniverse announced a partnership to develop a blockchain-based mobile payments platform.

The blockchain platform aims to enable seamless transactions between mobile operators and enterprises in the logistics, financial, travel and hospitality, media and entertainment, and retail markets.

Major private equity firm Carlyle Group owns Syniverse, which says it processes $35 billion in mobile transactions a year and connects to 7 billion devices.

Under the agreement, Samsung SDS’ blockchain-based Nexledger Universal platform will work in tandem with Syniverse’s blockchain solution Universal Commerce for clearing and settlement as well as its Mobile Engagement (messaging) platform. The goal is to develop a common platform which will work for any mobile operator, and any user can send money, loyalty points or digital currencies to other users or merchants globally.

Samsung and Syniverse describe the platform as “Your phone number has become your easiest payment method.” Additionally, the platform is being marketed as wallet-agnostic, meaning users need not sign up for a new mobile wallet to use the payments system.

But it’s use may not be limited to consumer focused applications. 5G and IoT are likely two key drivers behind the collaboration. As devices start to communicate and transact with each other, these transactions need to be settled.

Research by Syniverse showed that 5G is encouraging 60% of U.S. mobile telecoms firms to shift their business models from consumers towards enterprise. And 90% of the survey respondents said they were worried about the practicality of billing and payments.

Syniverse built its Universal Commerce platform in collaboration with IBM. It enables companies to clear and settle transactions using smart contracts, eliminating manual processes. Syniverse claims the platform can be scaled for any industry and helps with reconciliation, billing and other functions.

Meanwhile, Samsung SDS’ Nexledger Universal is an enterprise blockchain platform which provides a set of common tools and APIs with a choice of underlying blockchains including Hyperledger Fabric, Ethereum and its proprietary Nexledger Consensus Algorithm. The platform can interoperate with diverse wallet architectures. Samsung also offers a Nexledger Test-Net for companies to develop blockchain applications and initiate proof of concepts.

Last year, the company completed an inter-carrier billing pilot with French telco Orange and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) Russia. It is unclear whether the pilot used the Universal Commerce platform.

Samsung SDS has been making strides in the blockchain space. Last year, the company introduced Accelerator software capable of speeding up Hyperledger Fabric transactions by as much as ten times.

A significant collaboration is the partnership with Pega and Tech Mahindra to develop a blockchain traceability solution for supply chains. Samsung SDS is also developing ‘export customs logistics services’ for the Korean Customs Services.