The recently established Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG) snared a handful of new telecom operators as members in a push to construct a cross-carrier blockchain platform.
Today, the CBSG added South Korea-based carriers LG Uplus and KT; Etisalat Group from the United Arab Emirates; Spain’s Telefónica; and PLDT from the Philippines. They join current members SoftBank, Sprint, Far EasTone Telecommunications, and TBCASoft.
The new members plan to evaluate initial use cases using technology from TBCASoft. Early members SoftBank and Far EasTone this year plan to trial a mobile wallet for travelers between Japan and Taiwan.
The CBSG began a year ago when SoftBank and its U.S. subsidiary Sprint formed a partnership with Silicon Valley-based TBCASoft, which had a blockchain platform. The goal was to develop a consortium-based blockchain technology specifically for carriers that allowed for secured clearing and settlement, personal authentication, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
Last September, the group added Far EasTone to the mix and took on the CBSG label. The group at that time also demonstrated a cross-carrier payment platform system that could be integrated with a carrier’s existing billing system. That system allowed for backend systems to be interconnected in a move to eliminate late transactions or transaction failures between carriers.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is the distributed ledger technology that has gained notoriety for powering bitcoin. Bitcoin allows people to exchange currency online without using banks or other middlemen, and was the first blockchain application.
In a blockchain distributed database, every digital transaction is agreed to by a consensus of the participants. The transaction is then time-stamped and becomes a block in a chain of blocks. All transactions are signed and replicated across the network. If a change is made in one copy of a block, all the other copies are simultaneously updated. Thus, the blockchain contains a true record of each transaction ever made. And it’s virtually impossible to hack.
This construction makes blockchain an appealing candidate for digital financial transactions. And carriers are taking notice.
Verizon Enterprise Solutions said it plans, later this year, to launch a portfolio of services based on KSI blockchain technology. The services will be offered through its Virtual Network Services (VNS) platform. Verizon didn’t specify what the services would be, only saying they would help large enterprise and government customers maintain the integrity of critical infrastructure and protect physical and digital supply chains.
Blockchain efforts have also coalesced around the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project. Those efforts include a handful of sub projects – Fabric, Sawtooth, Indy, Burrow, Iroha, and Quilt – that bring something unique to the broader picture.
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