Manx Telecom hails blockchain payment PoC

Written by Peter Walker
19/03/20

Isle of Man based mobile operator Manx Telecom has partnered with blockchain protocol Minima to complete a decentralised payment proof of concept.

The trial saw Manx Telecom send tokens on Minima’s blockchain, from one phone to another, granting network access without touching any of the operator’s existing billing systems.

A statement from the pair suggested that to realise the 5G vision for connected devices, the basis of charging and settlement has to change, to avoid it becoming an industry bottleneck.

“At the moment the technical effort and cost of relaying a message from a video doorbell is similar to that of watching a movie, but at a fraction of the revenue for the operator – it costs a mobile operator $6 per year per account to connect to a single device which is prohibitively expensive.”

Minima’s solution is to manage access to mobile services via a decentralised blockchain, involving the sale and acceptance of tokens as proof that the user is eligible to access the desired services, replacing the centralised and legacy approval systems.

Telcoms companies can sell tokens that represent 100 SMS messages, or 1GB of internet data and accept payment back in tokens when the user requires these services. A permissionless blockchain allows decentralised payment at one of countless base stations without requiring approval by the main operator. Users can then independently create secondary markets for token resale and exchange.

The Minima testnet is currently running and will shortly be made available, alongside Beta Apps, while the mainnet will launch early in 2021.

Gary Lamb, chief executive of Manx Telecom Group, said: “This blockchain proof of concept with Minima is the latest demonstration of our ability to innovate in an agile way and underlines our commitment to identifying technologies which can power the future of telecoms.”

Hugo Feiler, chief executive and co-founder at Minima, added: “This successful first proof of concept with Manx Telecom has shown how the purchase and application of tokens can work in practice and we are looking to announce more partnerships and engagement from telecoms companies and other industries in the coming months.”