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TBCASoft, IBM, SoftBank Join Forces to Push Blockchain into the Global Telco Industry

October 23, 2019
Ross Peili


TBCASoft, IBM, SoftBank Join Forces to Push Blockchain into the Global Telco Industry

IBM, the Japanese SoftBank, and TBCASoft are planning to shapeshift the telco industry using blockchain technology as jointly announced yesterday via Business Wire. 

The strategic partnership is meant to use cross-carrier blockchain technology tailored for the telecommunications industry, where the joint effort is aiming to provide new services to carriers and their respective subscribers. 

TBCASoft is a company that builds optimal regulation-friendly blockchain solutions on top of the established backbone of the global inter-telecom network, and according to the agreement it will be responsible to integrate the new solutions developed by IBM and SoftBank. 

IBM brings its blockchain expertise, scaling strategy and software solutions, while Japan’s largest banking institution SoftBank is said to be offering its large enterprise-level telecommunications network to the table. 

All the known companies and third parties involved in this new project are aiming to enable carriers to integrate blockchain technology via the Carrier Blockchain Study Group Consortium (CBSG), an alliance created by TBCASoft and SoftBank, and focused on bridging blockchain and telco carriers on a global scale.

The consortium has already 18 participants including LG, Axiata, and MTN, among other telecommunications companies, which will be piloting the results of the collaboration between the three giants.

Some key features in the form of applications to be developed and implemented by TBCASoft include Mobile Payments, Remittance, Digital ID, Roaming, Supply Chain, and obviously the Internet of Things, all on top of a blockchain network that will enable faster, more secure, and cross-border telco services. 

The announcement disclosed the first application to be launched by the CBSG Consortium, and that would be the Cross-Carrier Payment System (CCPS), which is essentially a roaming-friendly payment app able to work with local merchants and shops while traveling abroad. 

This reminds me of what traditional blockchain-powered digital currencies should have achieved already but failed. 

Knowing that IBM is involved, we can be sure that this is not gonna be your typical blockchain similar to Bitcoin, but a rather sophisticated version of a distributed ledger that operates exclusively under the already established international telco wing. 

Details regarding the nature of the payments app are not public as of yet, but we can expect to face a private blockchain network with unknown or ‘fixed’ circulating supply totally dependent on the consortium’s needs and vision.  

TBCASoft already uses blockchain technology to optimize transaction records and clearing between different teclo carriers, known as over-the-top (OTT) payments. 

The way I imagine this, people could simply use their carrier data to pay for merchandise, transfer funds or track goods on the blockchain, probably without even internet connection, considering that more than one local carrier will be part of this network. 

“As telecommunication networks evolve and we move into the 5G era, carriers will help transform into digital service providers and provide consistent customer experiences across multiple platforms. Leveraging a telecommunications blockchain network that can enable improved cross-carrier relations, cross-carrier payment can help transform the way telecom carriers transact with partners and customers to deliver innovative payment solutions.” says Utpal Mangla, Vice President at IBM Telecommunications Services. 

IBM has previously worked with 80% of the world’s telecommunication carriers, and therefore it should be a relatively easy task to achieve, especially when considering the fact that TBCASoft is planning to use the IBM Blockchain Platform to offer open-source tech that can be used in various cloud environments by different carriers. 

Concluding, while not all the details of the partnership are currently available, with some aspects of the agreement being still finalized, SoftBank cited that the new payments service will be launched in Tokyo in 2020.