News: Bitcoin and Mobile Networks?

Our current economy is digitized and generates an exponential growth of person-to-person (P2P) transactions. On the other hand we often face challenges around flexibility, trust, identity and authorization that existing financial instruments are sometimes struggling to address.

And that’s where blockchain comes into play. Blockchain is designed as a secure distributed system with high Byzantine fault tolerance. The most successful use cases for blockchain today are related to financial transactions and the management of financial assets. The most famous examples include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple or Hyperledger.

Growth of Cryptocurrencies, © GSMA Intelligence 2018

GSMA Intelligence recently published a new issue of Global Mobile Radar, which analyzes the relationship of blockchain and mobile communications.

 

But it’s not only the financial institutions which can benefit from blockchain. Nasdaq just listed 4 Innovative Use Cases For Blockchain:

  • Supplanting intermediaries
  • Ensuring ownership
  • Eradicating cyber-attacks
  • Expediting supply chains

And we can add Digital records, Smart contracts, and many more examples where the blockchain technology can be useful.

Despite that, there are also associated challenges before blockchain can enter the mainstream, e.g.:

  • Energy consumption
  • Processing speeds
  • Privacy
  • Interoperability
  • Security
  • Limited ability to store data

In telco we can see at least several potential touch points. GSMA Intelligence mentions ongoing discussions of the use of private or permissioned blockchains to address processes improvements and security, either within operators or between a group of operators and/or with suppliers.
Other use cases include:

  •  IoT
    •  a range of applications to help to authorize processes and transactions
  • Fraud prevention
    • a smart contract could establish a data transfer and payment between the host and originating networks
    • blockchain-based eSIM
  • Payments
    • as payments are getting more sophisticated, soon or later we’ll face situations where we need to be actively online to complete the transactions
  • Mobile number portability and eSIM provisioning
  • Roaming/interconnect management

Blockchain sounds like a promising technology and for sure, we’ll see it in telco soon. However we shouldn’t forget, it’s just a tool. It is not a solution or cure for all our pains. (The same thing which we said in the past about WebRTC. E. g. in some cases we can find out, that blockchain is an overkill and we can use e.g. certificates instead.)

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