By Glenn Lurie, President & CEO, Synchronoss
Blockchain, one of the most talked-about topics of the past two years, has remained a key topic of conversation among business leaders to this day – and for a good reason. The excitement surrounding this technology has spread far beyond cryptocurrency. It is now sparking innovation across many industries including telecommunications because of one of its key features of security. More than one-third of operators are considering or actively engaged with blockchain in some capacity, according to a 2018 IBM study.
Telecom operators are among the most trusted organizations in any industry for managing their customers’ data and privacy. Through varying blockchain proof of concepts for supply chain, payments and identity confirmation, the opportunity to apply these PoC models with their operations and to enhance customer experiences will provide new revenue potentials. Despite uncertainties around new technology, blockchain is one solution that operators cannot overlook.
At its heart, blockchain technology creates a digital ledger with integrated data across platforms and hardware. In the realm of telecommunications, this means operators can work more efficiently with other players in their ecosystem, including suppliers, regulators, partners, customers and competitors. And this efficiency can be broken down into three primary categories – streamlining processes and reducing costs, developing value-added services and providing greater trust, security and transparency through collaboration with these partners.
Increasing Operational Efficiency
One of the primary ways for operators to leverage blockchain technology is through smart contracts which eliminate the need for third-party administrators and evaluators. Consider the increased efficiency in device connection, billing, network function and virtualization management if agreements can self-execute through software compared to individual approvals.
When it comes to roaming, blockchain offers significant benefits for both operators and subscribers. This includes solving the long-standing challenge of needing a middleman for billing while also integrating complex systems to enable roaming calls across networks and operators. Operators also gain the ability of faster identification of visiting subscribers while gaining greater fraud prevention capabilities and decreased claims. For subscribers, there’s more control over their bills with real-time alerting vs. a long lag for billing and no transparency when there’s an overage, resulting in greater satisfaction.
The Rise of Blockchain-Built Digital Services
Along with reducing costs and improving customer experience, blockchain also delivers on the promise of new revenue streams. Operators hold vast quantities of data and are uniquely positioned to provide blockchain-based, identity-as-a-service to subscribers. Examples include micropayments for music, mobile games, exchanging of currency across countries and other products and services.
Blockchain can also be used for secure customer-to-customer money transfer services, enabling operators to become global remittance providers. Through blockchain functionality, transactions are not only more secure than other transfer services, they have the potential to be faster, more convenient and less expensive — making it a prime opportunity for operators to increase revenue as they reduce the need for disparate clearing houses.
Increasingly, it’s clear that blockchain technology can deliver a wide range of applications for operators while having a positive impact on their overall operating models. Its level of success will be determined by the ability to explore and expand on existing use cases and partner with the many stakeholders to identify the best approaches, driving execution for achieving the optimal outcomes.
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