Why Combine BCE and Blockchain?

June 20, 2021

Dimitris Zoulis, COSMOTE’s Project Manager for Roaming Services and International Synergies, talks to Daniella Torres about how VoLTE, IoT, and 5G will impact the telecoms industry.

The combination of the emergent blockchain technology with the new Billing and Charging Evolution (BCE) settlement process can yield significant advantages for mobile network operators.

The roaming ecosystem is changing faster than ever due to technological changes and the rise of Internet of Things (IoT). The new BCE settlement process, defined by the GSMA, is designed to address many challenges that mobile operators encounter, namely, to support current and future charging models while automating and simplifying charging processes to drive cost efficiencies.

On the other hand, the current standards continue to refer to previously defined approaches towards agreement exchange and dispute resolution. While BCE defines the standards, frequency and the content of different documents, it does not specify how settlement parties should communicate with each other around agreement management, reconciliation analysis and dispute handling.  The current BCE standard only defines the content of the different documents, but not the lifecycle itself – from negotiation till settlement.

Although it is still an emerging technology, blockchain offers improved security, efficiency and much needed automation. It can accelerate digital transformation strategies, ensuring agreement alignment via an immutable, single source of truth, fast-tracking dispute resolution to greatly improve cash flow efficiency. Blockchain enables collaboration between mobile operators, and potentially with other entities in the future, such as vertical enterprises or application providers.

So, why not incorporate blockchain with BCE as part of the entirety of the future of settlement?

Currently, the market is looking at blockchain as a technology that will enable automation.

It is still unclear whether the market will converge to a single blockchain technology. Operators also acknowledge that it is important to move ahead as an industry and not in silos. Nonetheless, we believe it is critical to create applications that are agnostic to the distributed ledger technology (DLT) network and support various blockchain workflows. We foresee that operators will use blockchain technology for various other use cases besides wholesale settlement such as identity management, bandwidth on demand, etc. At TOMIA, we want our applications to be used by all operators, and to offer the best value and easy integration. We are therefore developing them to be DLT agnostic, thereby providing the choice to choose the most suited DLT network, meeting operators’ business requirements.

Blockchain enables collaboration capabilities and introduces new tools between two parties. Such capabilities need a critical mass to become successful. The use cases mentioned above (agreement alignment, reconciliation analysis and dispute handling) need to be proven on a large scale, with settlement parties using multiple or diverse DLT technologies. Hence, TOMIA’s approach for an open platform concept, where all applications are interoperable and flexible to adapt quickly to market dynamics and customer needs.

In addition, these blockchain-enabled applications need also to provide support to both legacy offline settlement processes and collaboration workflows. Allowing both on-chain and off-chain based partners is key to getting rid of redundant software solutions for the same purpose. Future agreement platforms should be able to manage all types of wholesale and commercial agreements for the various customer segments and services, regardless of the underlying technology. With that in place, we will start seeing the faster adoption of blockchain that will enhance the new BCE process with improved automation, and fewer disputes between partners.

To learn more about TOMIA’s BCE and blockchain offering, please contact us: marketing@tomiaglobal.com


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