Applied to the telecom world, blockchain technology is solving a plethora of major issues. This is the first in a three-part series exploring the many ways in which blockchain will transform telecom as we know it today.
While the concept of blockchain may be misunderstood or seemingly relegated to the financial world (bit coin or cryptocurrency, e.g.), this innovative technology will transform many aspects of telecom that are mired in cumbersome legacy protocols and processes.
Most urgently, stakeholders’ privacy rights are in dire need of transformation now that phone numbers are universally used as unique personal identifiers and thus as important to our identity as social security numbers.
Most people would never give their social security number to a stranger, yet we routinely give away our phone numbers to countless entities with zero assurance they’ll be kept private. With just your phone number, anyone can easily access a plethora of personal information – even information you thought was private. And like a sent email, once that information is out there, it’s impossible to reclaim and privatize it.
This is one of the most important ways that blockchain can ‘come to the rescue’ and enable consumers to recapture their privacy rights. It’s just one application of a powerful technology that will put consumers and stakeholders back in the driver’s seat, kicking out many of the meddling and unnecessary middlemen and putting consumers back in control of who has their phone numbers and thus their private information.
How Other Industries are Applying Blockchain
Blockchain is the kind of technology interrupter that will be as ubiquitous and transformative as the Internet was years ago. Let’s look at some examples of how blockchain has already transformed other industries.
From banks and brokerages to insurers and regulators, financial institutions have been experimenting with blockchain applications for many years. Cryptocurrency is a great example of how blockchain enables transparency and eliminates interference in financial transactions. Cryptocurrencies can be sent directly between two entities, thus avoiding the processing fees normally charged by traditional financial institutions. In short, by eliminating the many middlemen, blockchain technology streamlines the process of getting money from point A to point B.
In addition to simplifying financial transactions between two stakeholders, blockchain has the potential to completely transform many other financial transactions such as clearing, settlement and other intermediated functions. It’s also resolving the myriad of thorny security issues inherent in many financial transactions.
Supply chain management is another process that’s being redefined by blockchain. The multinational information technology company IBM created IBM Blockchain to transform supply chain management from the initial trading relationships to the many detailed logistics involved in vendor relationships.
Blockchain technology brings a whole new level of traceability, transparency and trust to the supply chain process by creating shared, permissioned records of ownership, location and movement of parts and goods. With blockchain-stored records, all relevant information can be simultaneously and securely available to senders, receivers, shippers and regulators.
Traditionally bogged down in manual supply chain processes, Walmart has been using IBM Blockchain to digitize its food supply chain for over two years. Blockchain technology completely transformed Walmart’s process, making it more traceable, transparent and ultimately safer for consumers.
If and when a problem arises with a particular food source such as a deadly E. coli outbreak, Walmart can easily identify which farm sold the affected produce to which locations. Before blockchain, it typically took about a week to trace the source; with blockchain, it takes seconds, thus reducing the risk that infected food will reach and be consumed by customers.
Clearly, blockchain has the potential to benefit consumers in a multitude of ways. As we’ve just learned, blockchain records enable suppliers to easily track and find the source of flawed products or parts, reducing potential harm to end users. But the benefits to consumers don’t stop there. Because blockchain streamlines unwieldy processes created by having too many entities in the middle, consumers will benefit in ways we haven’t even dreamed of when transactions become more transparent and more efficient.
In our next blog, we’ll explore how blockchain can enable consumers to regain privacy control over one of their most important assets in their personal privacy “supply chain” – their phone numbers.
And in this day and age when many of us are plagued by scammers, spammers and robocallers, who doesn’t want to hear about something that holds the promise of relegating robocalls to a thing of the past?
We’ll tell you all about it in our next blockchain blog…
Noah Rafalko, Chief Enterprise Officer, Midori Interactive, Inc.