KPMG, a multinational accounting firm, is partnering with software firms TOMIA, Microsoft, and R3 to develop a blockchain for telecom settlements. One of the “big four” accounting firms, KPMG has pursued industry-specific blockchain pilots in the past, always with an eye to settling cross-border, or network, complexities. The latest partnership, with two distributed ledger (DLT) industry leaders, Microsoft and R3, continues in the vein of resolving the issues that arise from multi-party connections. Specifically, KPMG is looking to address the hard data issues that will arise from 5G connectivity.
The company states that “international mobile data roaming revenues are expected to reach $31 billion in 2022, with an average annual growth rate of eight percent.” It’s that accelerating use of international data that Arun Ghosh, Blockchain Leader at KPMG, addressed in a blog post:
“While we will be able to consume more data more quickly and across more locations than ever before in this next wave of telecom advancement, it is becoming increasingly complex for telecom companies to track and settle interchange fees.”
The blockchain being piloted aims to reduce the future costs, number of disputes, and time involved in telecom settlements caused by “billions of mobile interactions flow[ing] through hundreds of connected networks managed by dozens of customers and suppliers.”
It’s not just future costs the business partnership is looking to salve, but the current inefficiencies in the market. Settlements and reconciliations are currently handled manually, and can take up to a month to complete, Ghosh said. Currently, he said, a huge amount of data is generated is around mobile devices including the metadata of where a call originates and terminates, the conditions of a user’s contract, and billing information, that must be authenticated by at least two parties if cross-service operations occur.
“The three pillars of settlements – the subscribers, their contracts, and amount of data generated – can all be integrated on a private, permissioned ledger to be seen and verified by the telecom operators,” he said. In fact, KPMG now reconciles much of that information automatically with smart contracts they designed. In the business arrangement, Ghosh said KPMG has taken the design and execution lead for the project. While Microsoft acts as the principal architect, R3’s Corda acts as the backbone of the operation, and TOMIA brings a layer of telecom knowhow through representing 40-odd global operators. Before this blockchain initiative, KPMG had advised telecom operators on capital-efficient deployment of 5G networks, cyber security, privacy, and data protection, and revenue recognition and lease accounting.