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KPMG partners on blockchain for telecom settlements

KPMG has announced that it is partnering with a trio of major tech companies, TOMIA, Microsoft, and R3, to develop a blockchain for telecom settlements. The ‘Big Four’ accounting firm has previously been involved with industry-specific blockchain pilots aimed at resolving cross-border or network complexities.

The latest partnership, with two distributed ledger (DLT) industry leaders, Microsoft and the R3 consortium, continues the focus of resolving issues that arise from multi-party connections. Specifically, KPMG is looking to address the hard data issues that will arise from the upcoming fifth generation cellular network technology – aka 5G – connectivity.

The company states that “international mobile data roaming revenues are expected to reach US$31 billion in 2022, with an average annual growth rate of eight percent.”

Future challenge

In a blog post Arun Ghosh, blockchain leader at KPMG, addresses the challenges resulting from the accelerating use of international data.

“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,” he writes.

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.”

Ghosh adds that the partnership will address not just future costs the business partnership is looking to salve, but current inefficiencies in the market. Settlements and reconciliations are currently handled manually and can take up to a month to complete.

He says that currently 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. KPMG now reconciles much of that information automatically with smart contracts they designed.

Ghosh also confirms that the project has seen KPMG act as lead for its design and execution lead. 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 around 40 global operators.

Prior to 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.

In April this year, South Korean telecom group KT Corporation launched its own blockchain-based solution on the 5G network. The solution, called “GiGA Chain,” reportedly acts as a security feature for Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices by safeguarding them against cyberattacks.

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