When Blockchain Becomes an Open Innovation Platform

Blockchain has been part of the hype over the past decade since the first whitepaper on Bitcoin was published in 2008. Meanwhile a number of books have been written on the theme, several educational courses have been delivered from top tier Universities including the likes of Oxford, UCL, LSE, MIT, Berkeley, and Esade just to mention but a few, and many have been the angles explored of a technology which has promised to become the next big thing after the World Wide Web was launched in 1989.

Things now seem to have reached a turning point, though. A long-debated theme in the entrepreneurship realm, whether in research or in the business world, revolves around the role played by innovation in advancing economy. Indeed, many are the experts among thought and business leaders who argue that the true issue for new technology to make its mark is scale, in other words, its dimensions to generate a durable impact for a real change.

It could be such a basic but often ignored rule to foster a new project which now brings together top tier ICT service providers with the aim to take blockchain to the next level by creating an open ecosystem with the aim to offer better services to the customer whilst increasing the efficiency of the players involved, which means lower costs for increased revenues.

Smart contracts, Internet of Things, or providing better quality for videos and calls, are just some of the opportunities that can be exploited. But, “it is very important that we move and work together as an industry,” Rolf Nafziger, SVP of Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier pointed out.

This is why, just a few days ago, the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF), a network of leaders from the Telecommunication industry, has announced a brand-new project for the creation of an open-ecosystem based on blockchain called Communications Blockchain Network (CBN).

“The CBN will be a platform to automate much of the basics between carrier partners, identify discrepancies before they become problems, and allow commercial, operations and finance teams to spend their time on elements of the business that make for differentiated service,” Nick Ford, President of IDT’s Carrier Services, explained.

Louisa Gregory, leading the GLF working group on blockchain and Chief of Staff of Colt, added: “For the past 14 months the GLF and its partners have been putting rigour and processes behind this platform and we believe that now is the time to launch. The blockchain-based ecosystem has been tested with resounding success at every stage, and we believe that this platform signals nothing less than the future of ICT financial settlement.

The project, which is expected to go live over the coming months, will be governed by a collaborative structure which includes A1 Telekom Austria, China Telecom Global, Colt Technology Services, Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier, IDT, Orange, PCCW Global, Tata Communications, Telefonica, Telstra and TNZI.

Jussi Makela, Director of GLF said: “From very early on, the GLF recognised the importance of the right governance structure to provide certainty to the whole industry that the platform will be open, inclusive, independent and conducive of innovation. We are confident we have the right framework in place and we are excited to welcome every ICT Service Provider to participate in the development of the platform.

On their side, technology providers will help to develop the reference architecture. For example, the leading finance engine for digital finance services provider Difitek “will support the initiative offering our finance engine and open API framework that guarantees safe and compliant transactions, and an interoperable layer to interact with blockchains and other modern services,” CEO Corrado Armodio confirmed.

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