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Blockchain is Bitcoin with a haircut and suit that you can parade in front of your board of directors

Articles . Blockchain is Bitcoin with a haircut and suit that you can parade in front of your board of directors
Did you ever play truth or dare when you were younger?
Or maybe you have played recently?
Either way, you know the concept. Admit a truth or execute the dare.
TRUTH: I’m a crypto enthusiast
My CTO uses my enthusiasm against me!
Few weeks back, I was bombarded with a bunch of articles against blockchain technology and the trend of ICOs. In fairness, the articles did make valid points. The title of THIS article is actually from one of those he sent (Blockchain or Bullshit?).
And from this very article, there is a decent definition of what is a blockchain:
“It’s a record of transactions that doesn’t reside on just one central server — a copy of it lives on every node of the network.
And every time transactions are added to this record, it’s broadcasted to everyone, so everyone gets the updates.
Once something is recorded, it cannot be taken back — it’s permanent.
Everyone that accesses its contents can agree on its authenticity without the need to trust each other.
Everyone verifies their own transactions, putting the trust on the network and its consensus algorithm.”
DARE: Blockchain proof of concept with COLT, PCCW, HGC, BT and Telefonica is nonsense!
My CTO said we shouldn’t indirectly target COLT or PCCW……….
From where I am sitting, that’s a dare!
If you’re at this point of the article, and have no idea what I am blabbering about, read these 2 articles:
Wholesale carriers Colt and PCCW Global in trial of blockchain for speedy settlements
Colt and PCCW Global expand blockchain trial
So what is all the fuss about?
The blockchain proof of concept is claiming that COLT and PCCW implemented a bilateral arrangement between one another. This bilateral was governed by a smart contract to rate CDRs, resolve disputes and then settle on the transaction. These transactions were then recorded to a blockchain.
This apparently resulted in hundreds of hours of manual transactions that are usually opaque, complex and costly being settled automatically in minutes.
What a load of bull#@!£.........
Let’s break it down a little further.
In the voice business, a carrier sends a call attempt to one of it’s interconnects. Most of us are operating VoIP networks and we’re using SIP standards.
COLT sends a call to PCCW. PCCWs switches receive the call, and in real-time routes the call to PCCWs preferred vendor who connects the call. Both COLTs and PCCWs switches start timing the duration of the call. When the call ends, the timer stops and a CDR is created for that call.
Usually, at the point at which the CDR has been created it is rated. Both COLT and PCCW should know the value of that particular CDR.
So if both COLT and PCCW already know the value of the CDR, once the CDR has been created and rated, why do they need to use blockchain for this process?
Doesn’t their current BSS/OSS systems manage the rating and reporting of these calls?
If a customer of COLT or PCCW sends traffic to them, but reaches it’s credit limit, doesn’t the system of COLT or PCCW block further traffic?
We know the answer, all of us use similar systems, routing, rating and prepaid/post-paid balance management is typically managed in real-time. That is certainly the case for Opt1mize platforms!
So where does blockchain technology add value? For disputes? For Settlement? To enforce the terms of the bilateral?
It’s business as usual disguised as disruptive blockchain technology
Let’s be real, the smart contract governing the blockchain experiment between COLT and PCCW is no more than an interconnect agreement, which our whole industry leverages in some way, shape or form.
Most elements of interconnect agreements are standard, specifically rating of CDRs including billing increments, dispute resolution and payment terms.
Which means any blockchain technology adopted by carriers, would be a private blockchain governed by a “smart interconnect agreement” for the carrier industry.
This is defined as a permissioned distributed ledger i.e. a DATABASE. That’s hardly innovation!
The blockchain experiment will certainly not make COLT, PCCW and the others joining the bandwagon pay their supplier any quicker. Let’s face it, the big boys like to squeeze the small operators on both margin and payment terms.
So why will blockchain change anything in our industry? Simple answer is, it won’t!
The curious case of RIPPLE
In 2015, RIPPLE was heralded as the technology that would disrupt the banking industry for interbank payments. Fast forward a few years, RIPPLE handles $3 billion worth of transactions per month for it’s client banks. The SWIFT network does this value of transactions every 60 seconds!
Why aren’t banks shouting from the rooftops about RIPPLE?
When a bank integrates with the RIPPLE gateway, it is no different to integrating with a correspondent bank.
The banking industry already have ledgers, and they certainly don’t have the need to distribute them, encrypt them or publish to the public.
RIPPLE is the new middleman between banks.
So what now for Telco?
The problems faced by our industry still remain. We’re in a world where revenues are diminishing but volumes are increasing. Instances of carriers defaulting on debts are becoming more frequent. Taking traffic from the “Big Boys” still requires you to underwrite very long payment terms such as 30/30 and in some cases, 60/60.
Even then, you’re not guaranteed to be paid on time, and as a small carrier supplying the so called “Big Boys”, THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT!
I watched a video from Hot Telecom where Isabelle Paradis interviewed Adrian Shatku of WIS UNIFI. (Here’s the video )
I very much agree with Adrian in that the future of the wholesale industry will move towards being a platform for players like COLT, PCCW et al. But the dynamic of OUR industry will still remain, where smaller operators will still need to interact via interconnects with the “Big Boys”. The small operators will still need to underwrite long payment terms to receive traffic, and more than likely have to prepay for sending traffic.
Blockchain technology won’t facilitate in paying you any quicker nor will it provide you with more traffic or routes.
How can blockchain technology be used to guarantee you payment from a carrier you met on Linkedin or Skype? It can’t!
The Global Leaders Forum (GLF) aims to foster an environment within the industry that focuses on ubiquity, collaboration and interoperability between providers as well as combating fraud through the “GLF Code of Conduct”.
If that is the case, why have I only spoken to 2 members of the GLF about Medii8?
Maybe the other members of the GLF aren’t aware of what Medii8 can do.
Medii8 does everything your blockchain experiment is TRYING to do, and it does it in real-time using ACTUAL fiat currency held in REAL bank accounts, all integrated into your existing switches and BSS/OSS platforms.
BUT, we didn’t build Medii8 for the GLF! We built it for the smaller operators, to protect them from credit default, to give them access to more traffic and to allow them to trade with one another in a safe environment. An environment that is ubiquitous, collaborative and interoperable.
Then again, most of our community don’t need to jump on the blockchain bandwagon to capitalise on the hype and crazy crypto gains that could potentially spike their share price!
Kashaf Bashir, COO @ Opt1mize / SVP Innovation @ Medii8