Blockchain and the Future of Mobile Money

Blockchain and the Future of Mobile Money

Blockchain and the Future of Mobile Money

12th of February 2019

As the hype dissipates around cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin the question remains: what relevance does the underlying blockchain technology have in an increasingly digitized world?

Mobile money has relied on traditional modes of establishing trust: you trust a mobile operator to take your cash in return for a digital representation of that cash, the government trusts the operator to maintain liquidity, the operator trusts the bank to retain that liquidity, and so forth.

This model of trust was enough to support the explosive growth of mobile financial services, but will it be enough to sustain it? Today’s mobile money operators contend with complex and competitive ecosystems, increasing regulatory pressures, and high costs, particularly for cross-border remittances.

Many of these challenges can be addressed with blockchain. It allows crucial digital relationships to grow organically with the rules for transacting being shared among participating organizations and the ledger for those transactions being cryptographically secure, immutable, and mutually verifiable. In short, it facilitates trust in the digital era.

Blockchain opens doors to new opportunities by providing a platform for:

  • Partnerships with organizations that provide a share of liquidity
  • Building KYC and AML regulations into the rules for transacting
  • Auditability: allowing governments and internal auditors access to their own cryptographically verifiable copy of an immutable ledger

These are among some of the properties of blockchain that have made it enticing for mobile money. But other properties make it less so:

  • Poor performance and scalability
  • Difficult to use for analytics and business intelligence
  • Lack of control over which parties can participate or view which transactions
  • Cumbersome and complex infrastructure requirements

Many of these issues can be overcome by using a private enterprise blockchain, which avoids intensive consensus mechanisms and provides enterprise control over access and a richer set of query interfaces into the blockchain. Implementation, however, is still a massive challenge because of the lack of skill and stable APIs into the various blockchain technologies.

How do we know this?

We’ve encountered these challenges implementing blockchain into our Digital Payments platform. To address them, we have created a REST API gateway that insulates the core mobile money systems from changes in the underlying blockchain technology and automated and simplified the provisioning of blockchain resources, making them run in both private and public cloud. We believe we have created a feasible and desirable mobile money system that adds the benefits of blockchain, without the complexity and with the performance to scale.

While, of course, we are hoping to sell our platform, we are also keen to engage and discuss your experiences and requirements from blockchain, as it is still a new and evolving domain.

If you’d like to know more about Alepo Mobile Money and how we got there, join us for a demo at Mobile World Congress, Barcelona from February 25-28, 2019 at booth 5H71. Click here to schedule a meeting.

Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Product Owner, Mobile Financial Solutions

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 14 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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Native WiFi Calling Gaining Ground on OTT Calling

Native WiFi Calling Gaining Ground on OTT Calling

Native WiFi Calling Gaining Ground on OTT Calling

4th of October 2017

Making calls over WiFi is no new thing to us. It’s hard to even remember the days before online video and chat OTT services like Skype and WhatsApp. However, what was once an experience distinct from cell phone calling, requiring separate software and logins is now becoming integrated into standard cellular service, altering how people make their WiFi calls.

The Early Days of Native VoWiFi

Apple’s iPhone started the change. When FaceTime launched 7 years ago, the shift started to happen almost overnight. Like iMessage, if you were connected to WiFi, you could make FaceTime video and voice calls without using your cellular data or voice plan. The benefit to subscribers was immense, considering most people spend the majority of their time connected to WiFi. The only disadvantage of FaceTime and iMessage? It only worked between Apple devices.

Today’s Native VoWiFi

Fast forward to today. Now, calls can be made over WiFi to any other device, be it another cell phone or a landline, just by calling as you would for any call through the device’s native dialer. What does this mean? Gone are the days of WiFi calling’s dependence on OTT apps or the need to have an Apple device! For operators, instead of a threat, WiFi calling actually presents a unique opportunity for real innovation. Plus, if operators implement VoLTE, this offers users a truly seamless handoff from cellular to WiFi calls, presenting an extra incentive to not use OTT apps, as they can remain mobile, even when calls began over WiFi.

Native WiFi Calling vs OTT WiFi Calling

OTT (over-the-top) VoIP WiFi calling is a cloud-based service that requires a separate client and typically does not allow for mobility. Carrier WiFi calling, on the other hand, is integrated with the mobile carrier’s network, uses the native dialer on the handset, and is generally an extension of the mobile subscription plan, and typically includes a seamless mobile experience.

Native vs OTT WiFi Calling

 Native WiFi CallingOTT WiFi Calling
DescriptionUsers’ devices directly access IMS networks to perform voice services with few changes in the core network. Calls will glide from cellular to WiFi and back again without any interruption in service.This is similar to what Skype calling or a voice call over WhatsApp offers, which works great until you leave the WiFi hotspot. Calls will drop as soon as you are out of WiFi range. It is unavoidable for calls to drop since there is no seamless handoff from cellular to WiFi.
Advantages
  • Unified dialing/message interface. No need to fire up a third party app.

  • Voice service continuity can be achieved utilizing the same phone number (seamless handoff).

  • Same QoS maintained as that in VoLTE.

  • Easy set up on the user’s device (just turn on WiFi calling option).

  • Only IMS network remodeling required.
  • Easy to deploy, no IMS or additional network infrastructure necessary

  • From a user's perspective, all he/she needs to do is download the app, register and it’s ready to go.
Limitations
  • An ePDG needs to be in place.

  • Limited user devices support WiFi calling, currently the latest models of iPhone, Samsung, LG, HTC to name a few (this list is naturally going to get bigger over the time)
  • Not a carrier-class voice solution, thus less reliable.

  • Lack of service support

  • QoS not guaranteed (no ownership of customer experience).

  • No general and regulatory services provided. (i.e. Emergency calls).

  • No standards defined.

Native WiFi Calling Benefits

Overall, native WiFi calling can be a win-win solution for both subscribers and operators. According to an Ericsson Consumer Lab study1, the key reasons users are interested in native WiFi calling are those shown in the chart below. Users value the fact that they do not need to download any extra apps or perform any additional logins. They also appreciate that their VoLTE calls get seamlessly handed over once they come in the range of WiFi, and vice versa. But, the bigger drivers are extended coverage and eliminated roaming charges. Gone are the days of going out on the back patio to get a better signal because the inside of your house is a dead zone. Or avoiding calls while traveling abroad for fear of the massive roaming charges you might rack up.  For carriers, these subscriber benefits correspond with distinct business gains, such as reduced CAPEX and OPEX, new revenue streams, competitive advantage, improved customer experience, increased international service, improved quality of experience, and first-mover advantage.

Voip wifi calling

Conclusion: Watch Your Back, OTT!

With all the benefits of native WiFi calling, it’s easy to see why OTT apps are losing their stronghold on the WiFi calling market. It will be interesting to see how the OTT market changes over the next few years to try to remain competitive and relevant!

Learn more about WiFi calling with Alepo’s white paper.

Ryan Gray

Ryan Gray

Partner and Sales Director

Ryan is intrigued by where telecommunications will go in the next few years. As a Partner and Sales Director, she’s been exposed to many aspects of the industry in different technologies and markets. When she’s not speaking in telecom acronyms, you can find her traveling the world, skiing the Colorado Rockies or doing DIY projects on her home.

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How digital BSS can be turned into a telecom business profit generator

How digital BSS can be turned into a telecom business profit generator

How digital BSS can be turned into a telecom business profit generator

23rd of October 2019

We all know that functionalities such as billing, rating and charging, customer experience, customer care, CRM, fulfillment, and revenue management are handled by Business Support Systems (BSS). A digital BSS stack goes beyond these functions to facilitate enabling, monetizing and managing a new class of digital services and partner collaboration. It helps transform a communications service provider (CSP) into a digital service provider (DSP) and is essential for the transition to 5G. Here, we analyze how a robust growth-enabling digital BSS solution can become a profit generator.

Predicting customer churn

Telecom companies can leverage advanced analytics to seek value from data residing in the BSS, OSS, and CRM, among others. By leveraging data gathered from customer usage, transactions, complaints, billing, and social media, predictive models can be built to identify potential churners. This, in turn, helps telecom companies roll out offers, promotions, and services to win and keep loyal customers.

Promoting a personalized customer experience

Digital users accept nothing short of unique, personalized experiences. By implementing a digital BSS stack, telecom companies can capture interaction data and create targeted customer interactions. Whether it is the need to address network issues, reward loyalty, or recommend offers, they can leverage AI and deep learning to meet real-time customer demands. Additionally, BSS data, network data, and performance data can be integrated to get a 360-degree view of the customer, giving them the necessary insights to create targeted offers that increase both ARPU and customer satisfaction.

Establishing innovative service lines

Cloud-based services are an increasingly important part of any provider’s offerings. Not only is their appeal becoming clear to consumers, but businesses are increasingly utilizing cloud-based services to enable ease of communication to employees across the globe. A robust BSS offering allows operators to bundle cloud-based services into more traditional offerings easily, ensuring that providers can both increase ARPU and be seen as innovative operators.

Promoting agility and increased efficiency

A robust BSS solution that is itself cloud-based can offer businesses the agility necessary to support emerging technologies. For IoT and M2M systems, for example, a cloud-based BSS allows providers to effectively sync and juggle the multitude of partnerships entailed in these complex new systems. As emerging business opportunities emphasize agility in a shifting and complex marketplace, a cloud-based BSS solution presents the only way to allow businesses to manage and create partnerships and products the instant opportunities arise.

In a rapidly evolving marketplace, characterized by shifts in technology and consumer lifestyle, successful companies will seize opportunities the moment they arise. In order to do so, they must utilize a BSS solution that can effectively extract insights from network intelligence by leveraging real-time data analytics, allowing providers to identify and respond to market trends as soon as they arise.

Retaining profitable customers

The cost of acquiring new customer accounts is substantial. Service providers need time to recover these acquisition costs, making it important to retain profitable customers now more than ever. And to do so, it is vital that providers have a complete view of customer habits and history. By integrating BSS and OSS applications, telecom companies can gain a comprehensive view of the customer to make convergent billing, tiered rates, and applicable discounts possible. This way, it becomes easy to analyze the value that customers bring to the business. This empowers the service provider to differentiate offers.

Constantly enhancing average revenue per user

The constant demand to improve ARPU drives telcos to deliver new services that meet customer demands. By integrating customer-facing systems, specifically BSS, with the other systems as well as service delivery mechanisms, telecom companies can inject speed into the launch of new services.

Whether it is a need to accelerate service provisioning, introduce innovative service lines or enhance the customer experience to enhance the bottom line, telcos can leverage a robust and modernized BSS to make these objectives a reality.

Pankaj Garg

Pankaj Garg

Product Owner, Digital BSS

Pankaj Garg is a telecom and FinTech expert with over 14 years of experience in the software industry. Handling digital BSS offerings is among the many hats he wears at Alepo. Always up to speed with the newest advancements in the products he handles, he takes it slow only when he’s road-tripping across India to discover new places.

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