Telecom Investments in Blockchains

By | October 3, 2017

Blockchain Telecom Blockchain InvestmentsBlockchain investments have long ceased to be the preserve of the fintech industry, having branched out over the past 2 – 3 years to different industries including health care, real estate, insurance, retail, and education to name a few. The telecom and Internet sectors are no exceptions. Focusing on the telecom space, we find that we are in the very early stages:

1- The VC arms of telecom service providers began making investments in blockchains as early as 2015.

2- Blockchain investments remain sporadic and limited to a few telcos in consortium with other investors.

3- The type of investments vary among different applications albeit a preference to invest in complementary solutions.

Blockchain corporate investment

NTT DOCOMO

  • Through its venture arm, NTT Docomo co-invested with Japanese banks to fund research towards blockchain-based financial services.

Orange

  • Orange Digital Ventures invested in Chain (Sep. 2015, $30 total with other investors).
  • Orange Silicon Valley set up ChainForceĀ to target collaboration with startups and bring blockchain-based solutions relevant to its ecosystem.

SoftBank

  • SoftBank founded the Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG) with Sprint (joined later by FarEasTone) to collaborate on blockchain applications for connected computing, personal authentication, and debt resolution.
  • SoftBank used a platform by TBCASoft to test mobile payment and recharging of prepaid phones across different carriers.

Swisscom

  • Swisscom established Swisscom Blockchain Ltd. to develop applications and provide other blockchain-related services (Sep 2017).

Telstra

  • Telstra Ventures invested in several enterprises, many of which are fintech ventures, developing solutions based on blockchains.
  • Telstra experimented with blockchain for IoT security.

Verizon

  • Verizon Ventures invested in Filament along with Samsung Venture and Bullpen Capital.
  • Filament developed a decentralized IoT network stack to allow any device to connect and transact independent of a central authority. Blockchains used for authentication (decentralized endpoint address resolution) and accounting.

Aside from making financial investments, a few telcos are experimenting or partnering to bring about blockchain-based solutions.