The hunt for the killer telco blockchain use case

Our recent two part research programme identified thirty six potential blockchain use cases for the telecommunications industry, deep diving on eight of the use cases we felt had the most promise.

Despite the breadth of the blockchain opportunity, people are still looking for the killer use case that will either significantly save costs or increase revenue. Part of the challenge is that there is a disconnect between R&D teams, who can see the potential technological benefits of blockchain solutions, and budget holders, who are unwilling to invest in unproven PoCs with limited evidence of successful scaling and, often, no clear business model.

Our advice? Accept that the killer blockchain use case (at least in the form most are thinking about it) probably does not exist. Instead, think of blockchain as a piece of technology that can enable killer solutions. The technology in and of itself should not be expected to unlock new revenues or cut costs, but instead to enable solutions, combined with other automated processes, that can do just that.

The diagram below highlights four different solutions where blockchain can help. It highlights that blockchain, rather than being the whole solution, is a key building block that can be leveraged at multiple points.

Telco Blockchain Use Cases

For example, within one “killer solution”, blockchain could be used for onboarding and authenticating parties/users (particularly in a private, permissioned environment), to track what data has been shared where and to create an immutable record of settlements that need to occur (either on or off the blockchain).

And even within these four scenarios, blockchain is just part of the solution. To enable real-time payments between telcos and suppliers, for example, telcos will need to invest in other supporting technology, such as automation and integration into existing payment systems. Blockchain enables the solution, but to recoup the full benefits telcos must invest in other complimentary technology too. Acknowledging this will help to address the concerns of budget holders who can make the difference when it coming to investing in further blockchain development.