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Working on the Blockchain gang: How distributed ledgers can simplify telephony – and more

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Blockchain technology is reinventing money, but it can also reinvent how the telemedia industry runs telephony across borders, cutting costs and reducing fraud. Rory Maguire, MD, aimm outlines how that can work in practice and what it means for the industry

Across the financial community, Blockchain as both a technology and a concept has been the hottest subject for a number of years. Originally founded by a person or people aliased as Satoshi Nakamoto to support the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, it operates a publicly accessible ledger of all transactions with simultaneous additions and deductions and immutable records.

The power in the public environment is that the ledger is outside of the control of a single party and inside a wide distribution of computing power operated by “miners” who get a small part of a Bitcoin payment for their activities.

Information held on a Blockchain exists as a shared and continuously reconciled database, but the Blockchain database is not stored in any single location –  removing the ability for a hacker to corrupt a single copy and making the database easily verifiable once re-reconciled.

The database is hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, sometimes without the owner’s knowledge and is accessible to anyone on the internet.

For Bitcoin this was needed as it is a distributed encrypted digital currency without a central banking operation to maintain records.

Now Blockchain – or a private version of it – is being viewed for its applicability to a large range of corporate applications where accurate, immutable, hack proof and efficient ledger records can be continuously updated across a single corporate entity with distributed locations usually global or across multiple corporate entities collaborating with each other to provide services.

Blockchain in telephony

The most obvious use of Blockchain is in telephony interconnect where the almost seamless transition of a call from one end user to another is followed by a cumbersome and complex processing of detailed records about the call known as CDR’s to see who owes what to who.

A typical call from a mobile end user in France to a person on a fixed line in Germany will pass through at least five communication companies each producing a CDR for the call. The aggregate CDRs in each communication provider are analysed, summarised and passed through billing departments that then bill or expect to be billed for their role in transiting the call.

Add mobile roaming and call tromboning to the equation (for ported numbers) and the processing becomes extremely complex, with third parties often involved.

The vast quantity of data and processing requirements makes fraud and artificial inflation of traffic difficult to spot, leads to incorrectly rated number ranges (stimulating more fraud) and elongates the time periods under which billing disputes can be raised.

Additionally, it puts transit providers into a large in and out cash flow situation with very little margin and their role in funnelling calls in and out means that originating and terminating networks do not have contracts with each other but with the transit providers.

Cryptocurrencies and telecoms

Cryptocurrency development has three major aspects that can revolutionise this environment, enable end point to end point contracts and make fraud and AIT simpler to spot and deal with.

A single digital currency can facilitate real-time global settlement of transit and terminating fees with the net proceeds of the digital currency then transferred to local currency if needed. Blockchain provides a secure distributed real-time ledger for transactions and Ethereum has a unique feature called Smart Contracts built in.

Smart Contracts work with digital currencies and Blockchain to automate the financial and delivery aspects of a contract enabling real-time payments based on CDR’s, fraud pattern detection with financial withholds, payments directly to each part of the value chain involved in every connected call instead of through the transit providers and real-time rating (or re-rating) of calls based on any Smart Contract updates. The Blockchain element of the digital currency will mean complete transparency of ledgers and remove the human overhead of billing enquiries and disputes.

A Smart Contract will enable a terminating provider with a new number range to sign a contract with every originating operator globally to route the calls. All originating operators based on the Smart Contract update can then instruct their systems to rate the calls correctly based on interconnect charges, use least cost routes to send the calls and the system will process payments based on the two sides of the contract. Arbitrage fraud is eliminated and cumbersome processes minimised.

With fraud, AIT and billing costing the global telecoms industry billions of $ and creating “baby and bathwater” contractual changes, withholds and billing disputes it’s time for Telcos to create a revolutionary change and embrace Digital Currencies, Blockchain and Smart Contracts.

Viewers rewarded in blockchained crypto-tokens as the ‘attention economy’ comes to adult

The power of Blockchain to change the world has been neatly demonstrated by a an adult company that is using a blockchain-based platform to reward viewers for watching. Why is it ground breaking? Because it marks the shift away from ad-finded online content to rewarding attention: the attention economy is here. And it won’t stop at adult, says Paul Skeldon.

Blockchain company Vice Industry Token Inc. has launched the cryptographic  tokens – called “VIT” ‑  that they can redeem to view premium content and other products and services from from a range of partner websites and adult entertainment platforms.

According to Vice Industry Token CEO, Stuart Duncan, the adult video entertainment industry comprises 62% of the porn industry’s revenue and represents 30% of global internet traffic. However, as the media landscape has become more crowded with content, competition for viewer attention is increasing and advertising revenues have fallen rapidly.

“The commercial model with sponsored content is broken,” says Duncan. “People’s attention is a valuable and scarce resource. The Vice Industry Token platform upends the ad-driven commercial model to capitalize on the new “Attention Economy”, permitting porn publishers to actively engage with viewers by rewarding them with VIT for their genuine attention and authentic engagement.”.

To earn VIT when viewing content on participating websites and platforms, registered fans will be asked to perform specific actions set by the site curator – such as upvoting, commenting, or sharing. Each authentic engagement will earn viewers a fractional amount of VIT, with additional VIT simultaneously distributed to the content producers and curators.

Additionally, viewers who buy VIT during the token sale will receive discounts of up to 80% for products and services from a select number of partner publishers. More information on the partners and the specific products and services will be made available before the token sale commences.

“People are always going to watch porn – it’s a booming global business. The current advertising-driven model is hugely flawed and ridden with fraud,” adds Duncan. “In contrast, the Attention Economy model lifts the bar for everyone involved. It rewards viewers for authentic attention, and incentivizes producers and curators to develop high quality, engaging content for which viewers will be willing to pay real attention.”

Vice Industry Token Inc. will conduct a sale of VIT tokens on February 15, 2018 and will make  betwenn 2 billion of the 4 billion tokens generated available for sale to the public. On 11 January, the company created a registration process that allowed prospective buyers to reserve the right to purchase tokens during the token sale in exchange for a small reservation fee. In under 5 days, porn fans reserved more than US$5 million of VIT.

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Editor and content creator for Telemedia – for 18 years and counting

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