Douwe van der Heij
Sr Director Product Management , Syniverse Technologies
Data-Driven Digital Networks (DDNs) and Business Models
Syniverse is the world’s most connected company – we pioneer innovations that take business further. Our secure, global network reaches billions of people and devices. Our engagement platform powers the customized experiences of the future. And the millions of secure transactions we drive every minute are revolutionizing how goods and services are exchanged. We have always led companies to reimagine the boundaries of possibility. Today we’re delivering on opportunities with the power to change the world.
Wireless Roaming Clearing and Settlement operates on decades old business processes developed during the infancy of the wireless industry. These processes are from a time when the only wireless device was a phone and the only service provided was a voice call. Revenue assurance was a trivial task of validating the minutes used and the rates charged at a visiting carrier. Whilst these process and related standards have evolved, this has become increasingly complex and arduous as carriers seek novel ways to gain market share through innovative charging arrangements related to the evolution of the market towards LTE and IoT / M2M and upcoming 5G. These arrangements have the unintended consequence of exponentially increasing audit complexities.
Today, wireless devices are primarily used as an extension of the internet, sending or receiving mobile data. New business models are extending this capability to ancillary devices – wearable “health monitors”, connected consumer appliances, or industrial devices that can be attached to anything from machinery to shipping containers – creating massive volumes of roaming transactions requiring clearing and settlement between home and visited carriers.
The increased complexity and volume of roaming transactions requires a fresh frictionless approach to clearing and settlements incorporating speed, accuracy and transparency.
Blockchain technology is shaping digital transformation in multiple industries by bringing profound changes to how multi-party transactions are cleared, processed and settled. In May 2019 Syniverse and IBM launched a co-developed a blockchain solution for Wireless Roaming Clearing and Settlement. The solution enables seamless validation, billing, charging, clearing and settlement processes for wholesale roaming.
At the heart are “smart contracts” mutually agreed between carriers are recorded on the blockchain. These smart contracts provide a single source of truth for commercial roaming agreements and govern the business rules applied to every step of each transaction submitted for clearing and settlement. Accurately governed transaction flows combined with inherent transparency brings new levels of business process efficiency. The friction of working in a multi-party environment is greatly reduced and there is a virtual elimination of disputes and dispute management.
Syniverse and IBM worked with Orange and MTS Russia to pilot the solution. The pilot also tested the new GSMA clearing and settlement standard, built to support NB-IoT and 5G roaming.
The pilot validated that the solution creates a carrier ecosystem that delivers clear benefits to network participants:
- Reduces counterparty risk
- Eliminates manual intervention
- Streamlines current processes
- Establishes systemic multilateral confirmation and consensus
- Creates end-to-end audibility with full transparency
By recording events on the blockchain the solution creates a transaction history that cannot be altered, virtually eliminating inefficiencies in revenue assurance, enabling faster and easier monetization of transactions.
During the pilot, Orange reported that the Syniverse/IBM solution increased operational efficiency, especially for call event creation and data exchange, based on the specific steps included in the pilot.
Similarly, MTS Russia reported valuable efficiency gains in clearing and settlement for roaming, supported by increased operational efficiency, auditability and “smart contract” management.
Typically, there are delays in when a carrier can collect and monetize on network usage as in the clearing and settlement there can be mismatches in implementation of the business logic (tariffs, charging intervals or other), reconciliation issues and therewith inability to settle fast. The pilot with Syniverse and IBM validated that network participants would gain the following benefits around six dimensions that would bring about real cost-savings, efficiency, and frictionless business:
- Faster time to market (live in a click of a button)
- Reductions in counterparty risk
- Diminished manual intervention due to traceable agreements (Blockchain enables visibility into who agreed to what and when)
- Streamline current processes; remove non-value add waste
- Establishment of systemic multilateral confirmation and consensus
- Creation of end-to-end audibility with full transparency
Underpinning the solution is the IBM Blockchain Platform (IBP), a fully integrated enterprise ready, fully-flexible blockchain platform, built around a well-managed open source distributed ledger technology, that can truly run in virtually any computing infrastructure. IBP is designed to help accelerate the development, governance, and operation of a multi institution business network and provides performance and security necessary for even the most demanding use cases in regulated industries.
Today carriers spend millions on revenue assurance solutions for wholesale roaming clearing and settlement. Using the disruptive characteristics of systemic bilateral agreement mechanism with full transparency inherent in “smart contracts” on blockchain, carriers will benefit from a transformed roaming and settlement environment, from creation of the file to settlement of the same file. Furthermore, Syniverse and IBM designed the solution to be use case agnostic and highly scale to carrier volumes enabling the application to disrupt any similarly burdened large ecosystem within telecoms and beyond where secure and transparent settlement between multiple parties is required. IBM Blockchain Platform, in combination with Syniverse’s three decade plus experience in clearing and settlement, clearing billions of transactions a day, leads to a new, faster, more efficient and more secure way of monetizing the ever increasing number of transactions, mainly driven by data usage, through IoT devices all over the planet
To take advantage of this disruptive technology, operators won’t require knowledge of blockchain technology - but can still participate in the network:
- Tackling sources of disputes at the core through undisputable agreements
- Trapping discrepancies early in the process
- “Smart contract” governed business process
- Permissioned access to the chain
- Extensible into intra carrier blockchains
Syniverse and IBM have demonstrated the use of private blockchain to provide each participant within a network with the same verifiable proof of events, billable usage and executed transactions while keeping content private among only the parties involved.
The solution paves the way for mobile operators to operate more effectively within their business networks. It securely shares data and creates a permanent, transparent record of digital transactions in a security-rich ledger environment.
About Your Organization
IBM (NYSE: IBM) is recognized as the leading enterprise blockchain provider. The company's research, technical and business experts have broken barriers in transaction processing speeds, developed the most advanced cryptography to secure transactions, and are contributing millions of lines of open source code to advance blockchain for businesses. visit https://www.ibm.com/blockchain/