IBM has teamed up with TBCASoft and SoftBank to develop cross-carrier blockchain solutions for the telecommunications industry.
In a press release, IBM said the move aims to transform the telecom industry by enabling new synergies throughout the industry. It will also provide new services to telecom carriers and their customers whilst fostering business innovation.
Carrier Blockchain Study Group Consortium
TBCASoft is a US-based company developing innovative blockchain solutions specifically for the telecommunication industry. The company was founded in 2016 but later partnered with SoftBank to form the Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG) Consortium in September 2017. CBSG is a global blockchain consortium of telecom carriers and boasts 18 members. This includes MTN Group, PLDT, du, Turkcell, Etisalat, among others. The consortium supports several industry-specific use cases including cross-border payments, digital identity, and telecom supply chain.
The collaboration with IBM will enable the consortium to leverage distributed ledger technology to support carriers in the industry. In particular, IBM will utilize its blockchain technology and experience in integrating and scaling blockchain networks. This includes software solutions to support the consortium’s efforts. TBCASoft, meanwhile, will bring technology and solutions to the collaboration while SoftBank will bring its telecommunications expertise and strategic support.
Cross-Carrier Payment System
The first application that will be developed by the CBSG Consortium is the Cross-Carrier Payment System (CCPS). TBCASoft aims to help optimize transaction records and clearing between different telecom carriers. This is also referred to as over-the-counter payment (OTT) solutions. With CCPS, the consortium will able to provide interoperability across different OTT payment solution networks. As a result, it will allow mobile subscribers to pay locally using their devices while traveling abroad.
TBCASoft CEO Ling Wu notes the strong relationship between the company and telecommunication carriers. He commented:
“As the global pioneer of cross-carrier blockchain solutions, we have been working closely with leading telecommunication carriers in the past 3 years under the CBSG consortium to drive adoption of CCPS platform. As the technology provider of CCPS, we are extremely excited to see the strong momentum of the platform and how it is positioned as an important pillar of the telecommunication transformation strategy.”
IBM has worked closely with TBCASoft to develop the consortium strategy, but the new strategic collaboration will see the tech giant also support the scaling of the ecosystem. TBCASoft will also use the IBM Blockchain Platform to provide telecom carriers with an open technology that can be used in multiple cloud environments.
As for Softbank, it will be the first company to adopt the cross-carrier payment system. It plans to launch its payment system in Tokyo next year.
IBM said that it is not joining the consortium but it sees the initiative as just “a business relationship”.
It is also worth noting that CBSG is not the first telecommunications consortium to be formed to help members exploit blockchain technology. In July 2019, the Communications Blockchain Network (CBN), was launched to revolutionize the ICT Service Provider industry’s commercial settlement infrastructure. Well known mobile carriers including A1 Telekom Austria, China Telecom, Colt, Deutsche Telekom, IDT, Orange, PCCW, Tata, Telefonica, Telstra, and TNZI have invested in the development of the CBN.