Japanese Telco SoftBank Explores Use of Blockchain in Mobile Payments

SoftBank by MIKI Yoshihito via Flickr

A proof-of-concept (PoC) project of a mobile payments service utilizing blockchain technology has been successfully completed by SoftBank Corp., a Japanese telecoms and Internet firm, in partnership with tech provider Synchronoss Technologies, Inc., and US-based blockchain startup TBCASoft, Inc.

Japanese Telco SoftBank Explores Use of Blockchain in Mobile Payments

The new cross-carrier mobile payments service allows users to make a range of in-store, mobile and digital purchases directly from their device. The solution is based on the Rich Communication Services (RCS) global messaging standard and TBCASoft’s cross-carrier blockchain platform.

It allows, for instance, a mobile user from Japan to make purchases in another currency via RCS while traveling abroad. The RCS global messaging standard can also be conveniently used to send a payment.

“The CCPS blockchain API enables the recipient to use an RCS-based messaging app or legacy messaging service like SMS or mobile email, to receive person-to-person (P2P) money transfers through the RCS wallet app either in the same country or overseas,” the companies explained in a release.

The mobile payments service PoC will be demonstrated at the Mobile World Congress Americas conference taking place from September 12 to 14 in Los Angeles.

“This RCS and blockchain-based mobile payments PoC demonstrates the value operator-led services can deliver,” said Takeshi Fukuizumi, vice president of Softbank Corp.

“Not only do we foresee our new mobile payment service empowering merchants to operate digitally, and at a scale that was previously only available to big brands, but it will also give our customers more flexibility when it comes to their purchasing and travelling habits.”

Commenting on the announcement, Ling Wu, founder and CEO of TBCASoft, cited the growing number of Communication Service Providers (CSPs) turning to blockchain technology to support a growing range of new features and services including secured clearing and settlement, personal authentication, and IoT applications.

“In today’s digital economy, blockchain lets CSPs create new services and then extend them globally, beyond their established territories and markets, in a way that’s efficient and secure,” Wu said.

“The success of this PoC proves that our cross-carrier blockchain platform can help CSPs leverage common standards like RCS to deliver disruptive services to their customers.”

TBCASoft develops blockchain technology specifically for telecommunication carriers. It leads a consortium-based blockchain platform that counts partners such as Sprint, LG UPlus, Viettel, and SoftBank. The cross-carrier blockchain platform called Cross-Carrier Payment Service (CCPS) aims to facilitate global mobile payment services among global telecommunication carriers.

The new mobile payments service is just one of the many initiatives undertaken by SoftBank to explore the use of blockchain technology. In December 2017, the firm announced a system for managing personal financial information using blockchain technology developed with Osaka-based blockchain startup Sivira. The system aims to give lenders reliable data on borrowers and is set to hit the market as early as 2019.

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