PCCW Global and Colt demo blockchain-based wholesale settlements

blockchain payments
Image credit: TZIDO SUN /

PCCW Global and Colt Technology Services have collaborated with blockchain start-up Clear to demonstrate that blockchain technology can reduce inter-carrier settlement times from hours to minutes.

The objective of the Proof of Concept (PoC) was to determine if the advantages offered by blockchain could be applied to make inter-carrier settlements more efficient, reliable, and scalable. The PoC was specifically focused on the settlement area of wholesale voice minutes, as the majority of telecom operators have similar processes for these transactions.

Currently, despite the financial importance of these settlements to wholesale carriers, they still involve manual transactions which are costly for all parties. In the trial, the application of blockchain’s decentralized, cryptographically enforced, immutable ledger technology resulted in tens of thousands of call records being analyzed and settled in a few minutes. Using blockchain, hundreds of hours of manual work were reduced to seconds of automated verification and settlement.

Furthermore, blockchain technology adds an extra layer of security and trust to transactions in an industry where sensitive and proprietary information is frequently exchanged, fraud is rife, and dispute resolution can be lengthy and complex, PCCW Global said.

Both Colt and PCCW Global are members of the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF), where discussions on blockchain have featured heavily, and it was in this forum that the collaboration was cemented. GLF aims to foster an environment within the telecom industry that focuses on ubiquity and interoperability among providers. This PoC was centered around these themes by attempting to understand how a technology such as blockchain can benefit the sector as a whole.

While blockchain has been kicked around as a potential solution for settlements within the GLF for some time, but most existing blockchain technologies lack solutions for scalability, contract privacy and enterprise grade business logic – all critical for an industry wide settlement and clearing platform. However, by using proprietary technologies, the PCCW/Colt PoC demonstrated the viability of a blockchain-based wholesale trading system, said Marc Halbfinger, CEO of PCCW Global and chairman of the GLF

“Everyone is talking about blockchain but the use cases in the telecom industry have been fairly limited until now,” Halbfinger said. “Whilst this deployment is currently only at the PoC stage, through our collaboration with Colt we are eager to demonstrate how the many potential uses of blockchain across our industry can deliver value by improving the ways in which we interoperate.”

“It is our goal to create a more agile, customer oriented organization, and one way in which we are doing this is by exploring the benefits of disruptive technologies, such as blockchain,” said Colt CEO Carl Grivner.

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