It’s turning out that blockchain is not going to be a technology of governments, banks, fintech startups, logistics, manufacturing and real estate alone. It can also become a major point of competition in telecom industry as all major telcos are exploring the possible use cases of this technology for their businesses. Over the course of next few months we’re likely to see the telecom biggies compete with each other not just on tariffs but also in this area of technological deployment.
The first, and also the biggest among them, is Jio. The telecom arm of Reliance Industries is using its Jio-GenNext startup accelerator to brew some promising blockchain startups that it can acquire and use later to improve its services. An engineering team has also been put to work whose responsibility is to devise the possible use cases of blockchain technology for Jio ecosystem. Earlier it was rumored that this team would develop a cryptocurrency to strengthen the JioMoney platform, but we’ll have to wait and watch for it.
Next is Vodafone. The company seems to be a bit ahead of its Indian rival when it comes to blockchain as it’s reportedly testing a proof-of-concept (PoC) in partnership with IBM. What that proof-of-concept is about and how it utilizes blockchain is not known yet. Airtel is also in the fray, but its work is still in initial stages only.
All these companies put together seem to be working on at least 15-16 different blockchain based PoCs, many of which may be aimed at improving the internal operations of these companies while some others may be based on directly improving our experience as customers.
IBM is working with these telcos to develop their desired blockchain platforms, so it becomes a common point of attention if someone wants to know what’s going on in Indian telecom space with regards to blockchain technology. When Inc42 asked about it to IBM’s telecom operations Vice President Vishal Awal, given below is what he had to say:
“Almost all telcos in India are actively seeking ways and means to deploy blockchain for various use cases. Telcos, being at the center of the digital revolution, are going to be key movers and shakers in making blockchain pervasive across the landscape.”
IBM expects the first blockchain deployment of Indian telecom industry to materialize by the end of this year. It will be interesting to see who comes first in this race now when tariff war has already been won by Jio hands down!