Telecoms industry embraces the blockchain, launching blockchain-based fraud initiative

Many service providers are now exploring how they can utilise blockchain to enhance operational effectiveness and improve security. In particular, blockchain is being touted as a potential solution to fraud – especially roaming fraud – identity management and authentication, and secure IoT connectivity.
A recent TMForum report noted: “With communications service providers’ (CSPs’) revenues and business models under growing pressure, blockchain’s ability to improve critical processes such as roaming and identity management, while facilitating new business models, means interest in the technology is growing fast”.
Blockchain is being used in the telecoms market for:

  • settling voice transactions – Telefonica and Colt are using blockchain to settle voice transactions between multiple operators (PoC)
  • ID verification and authentication – Deutsche Telekom and SK Telecom are using blockchain in an ID verification programme, streamlining verification and subscription processing; SoftBank has been working on a secure, cross-border identification system; and AT&T is co-operating with partners on a blockchain-based mobile authentication process
  • roaming – Deutsche Telekom is looking at how blockchain can be applied to roaming agreements
  • money transfer and payments – Globe Telecom is using blockchain for a cross-border money transfer service; while SoftBank has demonstrated a blockchain-based payment platform
  • data exchange – Telefonica has trialled a blockchain-based platform that enables people to sell validated private information; Deutsche Telekom is using it to enable the distribution of blocked IMEI numbers.

But it’s not just operators that are utilising blockchain. With fraud still costing service providers billions of pounds per year, and fraudsters running rings around traditional approaches, revenue and partner management vendor Subex announced (10 December 2019) that it is partnering with the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG) to create a blockchain-based fraud management solution  that is initially focused on combatting Wangiri fraud. The partnership will see Subex becoming part of the RAG Wangiri Blockchain Consortium, which includes major service providers from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
As a result, Subex will provide its customers with a decentralized and cryptographically secure blockchain ledger of fraud-related information. This ledger is already supported, synchronized and made available to all Consortium members in realtime. By joining the Consortium, Subex will make it easy for users of its ROC Fraud Management solution to update and utilize this common threat intelligence database. Subex says that the improved quantity, quality and timeliness of fraud-related data will not only benefit its clients but will help the whole industry share information about fraud, speeding detection.

“The threat of fraud is ever-looming and telecom operators are consistently challenged to keep up with the increasing sophistication of fraudsters in today’s digital ecosystem. We’re excited about the promise of RAG Wangiri Blockchain, as it enables an API-based mechanism for telecom operators to exchange data, allowing them to respond to threats faster than ever before. We believe this is a great opportunity for the industry to come together and move collectively against fraud”. Rohit Maheshwari, Head of Strategy and Products, Subex

Although initially focused on addressing Wangiri fraud, in due course the Consortium will also look how the technology can be applied to international premium rate fraud, fraudulent IP address information and stolen devices.
“The telecoms industry has repeatedly tried to use common databases to share information about crime, but the results have usually been disappointing,” said Eric Priezkalns, Chief Executive of RAG. “Connecting the Fraud Management Systems supplied by Subex to the RAG Wangiri Blockchain will be a major leap forward for global [telecoms] fraud prevention. It will help us to realize the dream of an industry that seamlessly works together to defeat fraud and protect subscribers everywhere.”