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Vodafone links its blockchain SIM to tokenized deposits


Vodafone launched its Digital Asset Broker (DAB) blockchain network in 2022 with the aim of linking IoT devices to make financial transactions. Since then Sumitomo invested in the joint venture which has rebranded to PairPoint. Last week PairPoint’s Chief Product Officer David Palmer told Yahoo Finance that it uses DAB and account abstraction to link to tokenized deposit networks such as Onyx by JP Morgan.

Digital Asset Broker provides blockchain middleware, so apps don’t interact with the blockchain directly. “We act as a middleman for large enterprises that wish to write to a public blockchain,” Palmer said. “These large financial services (firms) can link to Vodafone’s blockchain, it is logged there and then a smart contract using things like account abstraction, allows cross chain interoperability.”

So far PairPoint has focused on the economy of things using a SIM card with additional software to add an identity layer to an IoT device, turning it into a device passport. Partners have particularly utilized it for automotive applications and cargo tracking. 

However, Mr Palmer also discussed the potential for a broader use case for SIM cards as the hardware needed to secure digital wallets on smartphones. One of China’s state owned telecom firms, China Telecom has developed a web3 SIM card. It also supports offline central bank digital currency (CBDC) payments.

Vodafone’s prediction is there will be 5.6 billion digital wallets by 2030.

Digital Asset Broker’s history

Digital Asset Broker’s first initiative in 2022 was with Mastercard and Energy Web to trial electric vehicles autonomously communicating with charging stations. This time last year, Vodafone spun out the DAB project as a joint venture with Sumitomo Corporation taking a 20% stake, which was followed by a rebranding to PairPoint. At the time a rollout in the automotive sectors in Germany and the UK was targeted, with applications ranging from pay-as-you-drive, to charging point transactions, automatic toll payments and fleet management.

Subsequently PairPoint inked a deal with public blockchain Aventus for cargo tracking at airports. Last December it partnered Deloitte and major shipping carrier Hapag Lloyd to use the blockchain solution for cargo identification and tracking. In between PairPoint collaborated with Chainlink Labs and InnoWave to use Chainlink’s Cross Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP) for electronic bills of lading (eBL) – the key ownership document when cargo is loaded onto a vessel. Vodafone is also a validator on the Chainlink network.

So far PairPoint’s website remains focused on business use cases rather than usage of the SIM for consumer applications. It recently joined Hyperledger with the view to integrate with Hyperledger Besu, the Ethereum client that is used in both public and private blockchains. That announcement also referred to applications in supply chains and mobility rather than broader consumer wallets.

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