With 5G just around the corner, telecoms companies are exploring business collaborations to introduce new services into the market. But the biggest challenge is tracking revenue sharing between partners and the ability to support multi-party payments.
Telecoms service provider Syniverse and IBM have developed a blockchain platform for multi-party billing and payments. Yesterday, Syniverse officially launched its blockchain solution Universal Commerce, which is compliant with the new GSM Association standards for billing and charging processes.
Currently, telecom firms have to reconcile usage data for services used by their customers while roaming. Exceptions have to be processed relatively manually. A process that is already challenging is set to become more complex as 5G and IoT bring newer business models, which may further complicate things.
One example is providing enhanced mobile broadband at major events such as football matches. A venue owner might enable multiple streams to be shown inside the stadium. Sharing of data and billing between all the parties is the challenge. While this is a consumer application, another example is for autonomous cars.
A study by Syniverse showed that 5G is encouraging 60% of U.S. mobile telecoms firms to shift their focus towards enterprise. About 90% of the respondents were concerned about the practicality of billing and payments.
By leveraging blockchain, Syniverse aims to address the needs of interconnected networks and multi-party transactions by providing accurate data. With blockchain as the only source of truth, reconciliation should all but disappear, and disputes avoided. The platform is available to use by any mobile operator as well as other partners and will automate a majority of billing processes.
The automation aspect is made possible by the use of blockchain smart contracts. These smart contracts can be coded to define rules and commercial arrangements of each type of transaction between partners.
One question is whether this solution needs enormous scalability. At the time of publication we didn’t have a response about how that’s achieved, but we’ll update this later.
Last year, Syniverse conducted a pilot of Universal Commerce with French telecoms company Orange and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) Russia. The solution has been built using the IBM Blockchain Platform.
Syniverse is already in the process of establishing partnerships, and a few months ago, announced the integration of Universal Commerce with Samsung SDS’ blockchain-based Nexledger Universal. The goal is to enable mobile users to send money, loyalty points, or digital currencies to other users or merchants globally.
Two high-profile telecoms consortiums are working on blockchain applications include — the Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG) and the Communications Blockchain Network. In China, major telcos have come together to form the Trusted Blockchain Telecom Application Group.