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Telecoms companies complete mobile payments using blockchain

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Yesterday the Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG) announced that Taiwan-based Asia Pacific Telecom (APTG) and an un-named U.S. telecoms carrier used its platform for a cross-carrier blockchain payment by consumers. In other words, customers of one carrier used a mobile phone for payment transactions in another country while roaming.

The CBSG was founded by TBCASoft, Softbank, Sprint and Taiwan’s FarEasTone and has numerous members around the globe. The consortium has several applications, including identity, but the subject of the trial is the Cross-Carrier Payment System (CCPS) platform for personal mobile payments.

Specifically, customers of the U.S. carrier traveled to Taiwan in December and used their mobile payment app to purchase items at a store that supported APTG’s payment network Gt Pay. This was referred to as a “Proof of Business” mobile payment. The ultimate aim is to help travelers reduce foreign transaction costs.

Consumer international payments are being disrupted and mobile operators already communicate with each other worldwide for roaming, so they’re keen to grab a piece of the action. While Mastercard and Visa have alternative global payments networks, the mobile carriers believe they have something similar.

“APTG will be one of the first carriers to launch the cross-border payment service and commercialize it in the Taiwan market,” said Mei-Hui Teng, VP of Marketing at APTG. “We foresee the strong growth of overseas travel and the popularity of the e-wallet service.”

APTG is Taiwan’s number five cellular carrier, and another CBSG member FarEasTone is number three.

“CCPS works as a highly trusted and robust platform to connect carriers and Over-The-Top (OTT) payment networks into one large open-loop global payment network, creating synergy for both by matching a carrier’s subscribers with OTT merchants,” Ling Wu, Founder and CEO of TBCASoft, and Co-Chairman of the CBSG Consortium.

Blockchain telecoms activity

There’s been an uptick in announcements about telecoms blockchain projects. A few days ago, a group including Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile US, Telefonica, Orange, and the GSMA announced it was in the final stages of testing a blockchain for managing inter-carrier agreements.

Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica and Orange are also members of the Communications Blockchain Network (CBN), another telecoms consortium which has a broader membership than CBSG but has been relatively quiet.

Another startup, Clear, has been working on an intercarrier payments blockchain to enable telecoms firms to settle with each other for roaming payments. Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica are also working with Clear and invested in the company. Telefonica was a member of CBSG in the early stages but withdrew.