Cassiopeia

Blockchain, AI, and 5G The Triumvirate Transforming the Telecom Industry

In this #FinancialFox episode, Steffy speaks with David Palmer, Business Lead for Blockchain Technology at Vodafone and Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG & Emeldi Group. Together they discuss the telecom industry’s confluence with emerging technologies.

The full video interview can be watched here.

Transcript

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

Hi, this is Steffy and welcome to The Financial Fox. Today I'm sharing a panel discussion with two experts to discuss the intersection of telecommunication innovation and new technologies such as 5G, IOT, blockchain, and now AI. So we are looking at the telecommunication industry. We are reimagining the telecommunication industry with all these Web3 technologies and it's a really good discussion. So stay tuned. But before, if you're not subscribed to our YouTube channel, click the subscribe button now and follow us on social media to stay up to date with our news and interviews. So my guests are David Palmer, visionary and global platform innovator at Vodafone. He basically leads all the blockchain efforts and he is also co-founder of Vodafone blockchain based platform, digital Asset Broker. And my other guest is Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group.

Yeah, fantastic. So shall we maybe start with a round of introductions?

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

Sure. So I'll go first if that's okay, David. So, I'm Mark Bystriansky. I'm the founder and CEO of Emeldi Group, and we're a telecom specialized, software service provider for many years for the e-commerce CRM domain. And,that's what we do.

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

Hi, I'm David Palmer. I've explored blockchain and web technologies for the last four years. As a result of that, I'm now co-founder of a new platform in Vodafone called the Digital Asset Broker, which is looking at using Web 3, identity and wallet and transactions capabilities to allow devices to automate transactions. Really, really pleased to be having this discussion today Stefania with you and Mark.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

Wow, this is a very interesting move and interesting innovation. So let's maybe start with you know, the world of telecommunication. Mark, we were having a chat before. Yes. The interview said our telecommunication is actually really old world- yes. Because, what the telco industry refers to is really a global communication infrastructure. And nowadays new technology is really shaping these industries. So if we're thinking about 5G, we are thinking about the Internet of Things (IOT) blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), so you are driving innovation in the space. And I would like to maybe start, discussing if it's really still good to use the word telecommunication, and then we can perhaps go a little bit deeper into what those new technologies are actually bringing to an industry that is going to be really disrupted.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

Yeah, it’s funny actually to say that because I was in a Paris blockchain week and had a speech there and, our intro was, ‘two telecom real-world dinosaurs or something’ <laugh>. So yeah, I was quite pleased with that. It’s definitely old school. It's very legacy oriented, but then there's amazing things going on with it because you know, we need the telecommunication industry to communicate and there needs to always be some innovation. It sometimes takes longer than you'd like to. It's a massive industry, obviously, and they have a lot of legacy systems, applications, providers and so on. So it's not that easy to just make a big switch into something new. But yeah, I do find when there's actually something new that comes out, they’re definitely very much interested in it.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

Maybe David can say a bit more about how things are going with this new blockchain amazing space, which we're really into as well. I think there's a huge opportunity for that. There's a huge opportunity for as David mentioned to have these sign-ons for example, for customers to be able to do a sign on instead of having to physically go into the actual brick and mortar store and show their ID. And then after five days they're registered, they can just do it through smart contractors. There's a lot of innovation there. We're finding that in maybe a few years we'll get to where we want and we're looking forward to working with the telecom customers that we have right now and trying to get the mass adoption going.

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

I think first of all, yeah, is it right to use the word telecommunication? I think there's still a lot of infrastructure, which is based on telecommunication and mobility. I mean, the networks are now worth a lot. What I would say is that telecommunications companies are moving to become technology companies, right? So, in Vodafone we've got a saying, which is Telco to TechCo, right? So, everybody's becoming a telecommunication company. And also, communication service providers are becoming digital service providers. So, when you're seeing a lot of convergence between communications and platforms and customers and technology, which is blurring the lines. So, what I would say is that actually, the new definition of a telco is actually a technology company.

Except telecommunications companies do have some advantages, one of them being the customer bases for the number of subscribers, both for consumer business and, IOT and also, the massive network which provides edge-based communications with the phone which can be leveraged with some of the new communications and technologies like Web 3 AI and others to form new solutions. So I actually believe that, yes, telcos are evolving to become technology companies, and they're also evolving to become platform companies, but we're in a very good position to benefit from all of these technologies converging.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

Okay, so there are many technologies converging, but if we just focus on the blockchain aspect, what is the impact that blockchain is actually bringing to the telecommunication industry?

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

I mean what I'd say straight away is that you know blockchain, first of all is something that is for the external automation boundary. What I mean by that is that you have trust within your organisation or a certain level of trust within your organisation. And blockchain is essentially trust. It's about providing an immutable record, a ledger of records, timestamp, and the ability to trust data that's written to it. So it provides trust. Now that helps the external automation boundary. How telcos or other organisations communicate with other people that they don't have contracts and they don't have trust with. Now, in terms of immediate benefits to the telecoms industry what you would've seen in some of the headlines is some of the work that's happening in carrier billing, some of the work, carrier services, and some of the work that's happening, in roaming which are announced where blockchain is providing a more cost-effective solution for settlement of roaming, right. Providing an immutable ledger, providing smart contracts for automatic settlement going forward. However, I think there is an opportunity for the blockchain infrastructure, sorry, for the mobile infrastructure to become part of the blockchain infrastructure. Now, I say this to say that Vitalik Buterin, who's the founder of public blockchain, Ethereum, we're sort of saying, okay, you know, Ethereum is growing. They recently had something called The Merge, which moved them (Ethereum) from proof of work (PoW) to Proof of stake(PoS) consensus. What does that mean? It's more energy efficient, it provides the basis for more volumes of transactions and better security. So, this is a big move for enterprises to start using public blockchains like Ethereum. What did he say the next step was about having your mobile phone or a mobile device and the mobile device to be basically providing consensus for the blockchain. So extending blockchain to mobile, I think this is big potential for the convergence of telecoms. The telecoms network and blockchain infrastructure. And it's one where I think that we're starting even with the base station.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

Can you really run a node with your mobile?

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

Not at the moment, but there's a lot of work going in that area because what's happening is that with some of the developments in consensus protocol, so for example, the move from proof of work to proof of stake, and some of the differences, some of the other developments happening in there is that you, you're getting away from everyone in the network having a full copy the transactions, right? A full copy of the chain to be selected. So you're moving away from full broadcaster channel in technical speak. Now, once you can start, you know, refining that process, yes, absolutely. For not every device, but certainly on some devices, certainly on mobile phones, yes, you could potentially run consensus algorithms, right? And when you start looking at that with edge computing and confidential computers at the edge. Yeah, absolutely that's something that will happen in the future. Yes.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

I can jump in there. I mean I'm maybe gonna look at it at a more high level and maybe slightly more pessimistic you know. I think we've been in telecoms for over 20 years. And what I found is, you know, there's this big push for doing cloud, for example, you know, we're in the CRM space so we compete against Salesforce, we can now fully replace Oracle Siebel CRM within telecom operators who have many implementations. And I think about already, like 12 years ago, we were, we were going with my father to some of our customers and saying, what do you guys think? You know, like, I don't want to name any, whatever T-Mobile it was or whatever. “What do you guys think about putting your precious customer data that you have that you really, you know, <laugh> they need to have on-premises putting into the cloud?

And that's exactly what they said. They said, well, how could we put our precious customer data in a cloud that's, that's, uh, ludicrous, right? So that was back then, and now if you go to any telecom <laugh>, they say, you know, are you, are you doing a cloud? Of course we're in a cloud. That's legacy, right? So I think that analogy with blockchain, I really, again believe in the technology. That's what I'm here for. But to get that mass adoption there needs to be some breakthrough, right? There needs to be like, David mentioned there's a lot of these possibilities for nodes. And yes, I do agree that there is this possibility, but again, we need to look at what telecoms are doing. And they're in big corporations, they're big businesses.

And one thing that's the decentralised way is that maybe it will force them. It'll make some adoption within them as well, to go that route. But to give, you know, just to give up what they have in a sense, and to do it in a decentralised way, there needs to be some way to operate in that way. So, yes, I do believe that the technology is there. I believe it's gonna be a bit of a challenge to get mass adoption. Like, for example, is the blockchain now so safe that, you know, they can put their customer data set or transactions within it? I don't think it’s there yet. You know we need to come up with something which will work for them and be able to, you know, provide what we want as well.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

So here it comes down to the debate between a public blockchain and private blockchain. Yes, you are developing something with Vodafone. What I would like to understand is have you decided to go for a public blockchain? If yes, why? And then to Mark’s point, is there maybe some friction there. You know, like big brands in Web 2 would rather prefer a private blockchain over a public blockchain.

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

So, so first of all - it depends. I think what you have is infrastructure, right? You have blockchain infrastructure, you have telco mobile infrastructure, and I tell them all as part of a layer one. And what we're starting to see is this infrastructure at layer one is starting to convert the power of 5G with blockchain, the power of IOT, 5G, layer one, blockchains and cloud, all of these things coming together to form infrastructure. Now in terms of how telcos use that layer one infrastructure, I think we're part of it. And the convergence of telco layer one infrastructure with blockchain layer one infrastructure is essential, to move things forward. In terms of the specific question of private or permission versus, uh, public blockchains, I think that that's being developed from two sites.

And, and I'll give you what we're doing afterwards, right? So, on the one site, you have permission to public. So, this is where organisations are starting off with a permission blockchain because of security, because of control, because of ecosystem control point, but you're using, you're developing links between that permission blockchain and public blockchain. So maybe having some rollout to a public blockchain so you can use Ethereum smart contract you know, having differences i.e. the means for the ecosystems to interact. So that is happening, right? And you'll see a big lot of big organisations are running, validating those for public blockchains. And there is some integration between permission blockchains and private and, and public blockchains. On the other hand, you have a lot of developments on the other side. So that, so what I described before is what you call permission to public.

And then on the other side, you have public permission <laugh>. And this is where some developments in public blockchains are allowing you to have permissioned areas or permission chains within it. And both of these things are taking off at the same time. Now what we've done is we started out with a permission because we started out four years ago. So we started out with our three quarter, layer one, but we operated layer two. So our approach is to be multi-chain. To be able to use a multiple layer one. We started out with our three quarter as a permission. But now because we're at layer one, we're starting to work with other protocols. So we're starting to use the permission blockchain as a middleware to interact with public blockchains and run EBMs to make an EBM compatible to start to integrate and have ecosystems that are interacting.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

Do you have a use case for those anywhere, David, or is there any, actually, you know, you mentioned those being used for, for example.

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

Yeah, so we're, we're actually live with the digital asset broker platform. So the high level use-cases embedded financial IOT devices. Why we're using blockchain is to provide interoperability of the device identity and also peer-to-peer transactions between the devices utilising wallets. And why we want to work with public blockchains is two reasons. One is that we're very interested in EVMs and AVM. So being able to run different smart contracts but also we are very interested in being able to mix the ecosystems. So, to provide access to public blockchain capabilities for customers and devices on our permission chain. So, yeah, we're very, very much doing it. We're very much pushing it forward. And this is how we're seeing it, if you ask me personally, I believe that we're on a road to public chain.

I believe it's like the internet where you had an intranet and internet. I believe we will end up with public change. I believe that some of the work that's going on, especially the work with Ethereum, the recent merge, which, you know, from an energy point of view started to make it much more energy efficient to be a part of it. But with things like EIP P 1 5 59, you know, which is another improvement proposal, we're gonna start seeing up to a hundred thousand transactions per second on public blockchain. So I think the stress tests are there, and I think eventually we will be on a public chain, but the interim period its permission public and public permission.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

And you think these are basically for order fulfilment, order processing and, and those will be able to be done through the public blockchain.

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

I think technically, yes. I think the barriers are more business, right? So it's all about, fundamentally what you have is decentralised wealth where your control point is not controlling your customers, right? But being first to market and having a great product, correct. And in the current world we have control points, controlling your customers, controlling access, and the problem for, or the challenge for conventional business is how you evolve your business model to a decentralised model, right? How do you make money with decentralised models.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

Exactly.

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

I don't think that's been worked out yet, right? So I think it's worked out for the protocols. Because blockchains charge by utility gas and they're making money, but how you make money as a corporate where you bring a mass ecosystem to public blockchain, hasn't been worked out. And I don't think the conversation is there because, you know, for example, if, you know, Facebook were to bring 2 billion users to Ethereum, what would they get out of it? And I think these are some of the high level business incentives that need to be worked out.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

I think here Mark I would like you to talk about the Super App, because to me it kind of looks like you kind of crack it because the layer is decentralised, underneath it's decentralised. But the actual focus is really on UX, UI, user experience. Because at the moment you’re switching between different kinds of apps where there is this opportunity to have a super app that everything can be plugged in. And basically, building an infrastructure where it’s your one place to go, where you can do all your business. So yeah, we would like you to expand on that and if you think that is really the point where you can monetize exactly what David said, which is a big problem - how to monetize on decentralised solutions.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

Exactly. The monetization is very important. We were actually contacted a year ago from a major operator – a mobile operator that's specifically for the African market. And their idea was to basically allow people to use their network and have the app in order to be able to send and receive money, right? So, they provide the video calling and some messaging group chats on that as well. And they would also have localised content for the users. And one thing that they'd be actually tackling is what we take for granted like WhatsApp, you just download it, you download another YouTube, and there's a lot of places where you know the data's really expensive. They (people) don't have contracts. The main point is that we're talking about 5Gs and IOTs.

But the problem is that in some places, a lot of the population don't even have a 3G equivalent phone, the handsets, that's the problem. So for them, for any person to be able to download all these apps, it's just ludicrous. And they can't, so they (African telco), said, well, why don't we come up with an app?

And when they contacted me and said, do you know anything about a super app? And I said, like what a WeChat, you know, at that time. And then it all kind of fits together. It's like we have e-commerce, so we can provide that for your telecoms, right? So, you can have your customers there, they can be doing all their online stuff, and can provide all the other stuff which now is a super app.

You can do video calling and instant messaging, and all that group chatting in one app. And in essence, you have a lot of third parties that are integrated, like micro apps, and you don't have to download hundreds of apps. That's the thing. And what we have is our own wallets now. So you can see we're gonna be launching the EMG token that you can actually use to earn concepts. So you're gonna do transactions within the app, even for the telecom operator so that users can go online and they can go and buy their tariffs, they can do anything. And we actually have an agreement with a 4G equivalent Huawei, a major distributor for the African markets so the phones are gonna be like 72%, even 80% reduced from the actual retail price.

So they (people) can get the app, they can buy the phone, have the app already installed, and they'll already have data from the local provider so that's a massive plus. And it's the first app that you can send and receive while we, we could have this conversation right now, and Stefania, you could say, send me some USDT or EMG token and I get a receipt popup and then I can send it right away to you. And while we do that transaction instantaneously, you'll get 5% of the EMG token back into your wallet. So you're kind of getting used to it. So it's like an incentive. And again the main thing is data; the cost of having it you know and the devices; and basically that old cliche is like connecting the unconnected and banking the unbanked. I think that's one way we're really solving and able to solve some of these problems.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

Yeah. I think it is very interesting what you said. Most countries in the world don't even have 4G right? And you know, when we think about it, there's been so much said about 5G and really there are not many use cases of 5G yet. Do you think the main use case of 5G will be within Web 3?

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

I mean, look 5G it's new you know, it's big, you know - Gartner, everybody's writing about it. Sure, it's wonderful. Have we seen the full effects of 5G? To be honest, no, I don't think so. The IOT is something that's not new. There’s the telcos, they tried to launch that big time. It didn't quite work out as much. So, what I think more is the 5G marketplace we can do use cases like for the marketplace. The 5G, IOT marketplace is something that's been really used. Maybe David knows more about this than me, but I haven't seen that 5G will have such a massive effect within the blockchain yet. I'm sure there's good ideas for it. But one thing we're starting is a project in one of our telecom parties in Europe, and we're doing this 5G IOT marketplace for the local cities basically. So, we have three or four cities that are running on our CRM and being used for the blockchain. Yeah, there's certainly a lot of use cases. Are there any case studies though that you know we have in real life? I haven't found any, to be honest, but maybe David knows more.

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

Yeah, no, I agree. Mark. 5G is infrastructure, right? It's infrastructure. And if you look a lot at a lot of where we are going, you know, critical for autonomous level four, so this is autonomous driving, and we saw in the UK an announcement by Ford that they're gonna start autonomous driving trials on UK roads. So, in terms of low latency communication, absolutely critical there. If you look at what's happening with, the buzzword, the headline of 2023, which is generative AI and open AI, which is built on that sort of technology stack, yeah, I mean, if you want to have virtual assistance in cars and virtual assistance on the move, and you want automatic prompting and you want it to be real time, yeah, 5G is gonna be a massive enabler of taking, you know, chat GBT, open AI, generative AI out of your laptop, right?

And having it applied in real life contextually, if we look at Web 3, another aspect of Web 3, I think, you know, for 5G to really play a role, you've gotta comply it with the application. And the applications are using AI, they're using other immersive technologies for the metaverse. They have autonomous driving applications, which may use some or all of these. And, I think when you look at that, yeah, you know, 5G will play a huge role in the metaverse because the metaverse, you know, is all about immersive technologies, augmented realities, virtual reality, mixed reality. We're seeing Apple you know touted to make an announcement this year on the release of its mixed reality headset. And you know, for the metaverse, the sort of meet the opportunity targets or forecasts out there, which is anywhere up to 5 trillion US dollars. So roughly 5% of global GDP by 2030 or 2035, you know, it is gonna be more than people playing games, right? It's gonna have to be on the move, it's gonna be in supply chains, you know, it's gonna be integrated into mobile, it's gonna be, uh, in our everyday work.

Now, when you start combining this with generative AI, and you know, I've got this saying that, AI the metaverse on earth. There was a headline from someone in IBM and I think Goldman Sachs, and they were saying that, you know, open AI, generative AI could replace 300 million jobs, right? So what kind of jobs are these? These are white collar jobs processing but sometimes these are jobs that interact with people. How's that gonna happen? Well, you're gonna need the metaverse, you're gonna need them to interact with you know a bot on steroids, some sort of person or some sort of immersive experience. So you start having metaverse combined with AI maybe powered by Web 3 wallets, Web 3 self-sovereign digital identity. And these things come together in these apps and maybe these apps are now being played out on a car, right? Autonomous car. Do you need 5G and five point 5G for that? Yeah, absolutely. Is it the now? No, I don't think the infrastructure is rolled out fully. And I don't think the applications are there, but is that where it's going? <laugh> Yeah, absolutely.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

It is amazing the way you kind of describe all these components and yeah, probably we are gonna get there in the next decades, but going back to another piece of Web 3, which is the NFTs. So what are the use cases right now for NFT in telecommunication?

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

I've got one. So we're actually working on a project with Polygon cuz we're running on the Polygon network and we have something with an operator, which we'd be doing the loyalty rewards through NFTs through smart contracts. So you probably heard about Polygon launching Starbucks, I dunno if they call it the NFTs, if that's allowed, or call it digital collectibles. I think that’s the word. So we're definitely working with one operator where we're doing a POC where we'll be launching the loyalty rewards programme through NFT smart contracts. And, I mean you know, that's gonna be one of the first in a telco, which is amazing using blockchain. And I don't want to go too much into detail about it, but it's something that would really, I think you know, catch some headlines, Starbucks is interesting.

You remember how many headlines that caught in. I imagine one operator would be using that would be quite interesting. And I think this is what we need - maybe having smaller adoption within the telcos, having some kind of a basic being for the identity using smart contracts, new customer authentication within telcos. So again, not having to go to a, you know, the store, show your IDs and all this stuff, then having to wait four days to have it online, and then you find out your name is spelled wrong. You could do it seamlessly through smart contracts. So having these smaller steps in order to get mass adoption. I'm going a bit sideways here to answer your question, but it's something that's definitely a use case for this. A hundred percent. Yeah.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

David, do you wanna add anything about NFTs?

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

I mean further way NFTs are digital ownership, right? So, in telecoms, you know, the use cases, yes, loyalty points related to collectibles, you can hold good use cases, you know ownership devices, ownership contracts can be NFTs. And what we've gotta understand I mean even your telecom plan could be an NFT where you are looking at the new development because there's two important, well, there's three components to an NFT, right? I can describe them in Ethereum language, smart contract language, right? So you've got a 7 21, which is the ownership of the asset outright. Then you have the two recent smart contracts in Ethereum language, but they're run right through, one of them is the time bound NFT. And, that smart contract allows you to add a time limit to the ownership. So that then starts fitting with leasing rentals, time plans, whatever, right? That is really powerful and could potentially revolutionise the way people access mobile contracts, you know, prepaid and postpaid and the minutes in there. And then the other one is the royalties, right? So the other thing is the NFTs royalty. So this is where, at the moment, someone who composes music or artwork can have a royalty payment, in perpetuity. Wherever that artwork is used or consumed, or the music is streamed again, in telecoms, you know, that could be something, whereas if we are developing applications, you know, et cetera, that the royalty could be part of it, right? So I think I absolutely agree with Mark for now. I think loyalty points, you know, ownership of devices, you know, is one. But I think with these new developments in NFT, it's opening the way where anything can be an NFT and actually, a lot of the things that are contractual now using traditional contracts and agreements, which are quite cumbersome and can actually be handled with NFTs in the future for sure.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

Now, before we kind of wrap it up there is one point that I wanted to discuss a little bit more in detail, which is digital identity. We discussed it earlier about, you know, SSI the importance that mobile is tied up to an identities. So, my question will be, are Telco companies looking at identity as a service? Are they planning to capitalise on data management, or are we actually giving the data, which is what call the centralised movement - the giving the data, the power, the ownership of the data back to the people, and how can that actually look like within the telecommunication industry?

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

I'll, you know, again, try to be a little bit more pessimistic, but, from a high level, I mean, if you look at, you know, WhatsApp, what Signal did to the telecom. I remember back in the day it's maybe still the data you know, data roaming, data usage was, you know, even if I was studying in, um, California, and then, you know, calling or doing something through the next state was massively expensive, you know, and people then just started using WhatsApp for free, right? You can call and use it for free. So what did that do? Did that mean that you know they're gonna go full-fledged, not charge anybody? The telcos, of course not.

But what they did come up with is unlimited data. So we need to compete, right? So we need to do something cuz we're losing a lot of customers, we're losing a lot of revenue to that side. So what is a decentralisation of the data gonna go to away from the, from the telcos? I don't think so, but what it will force them to do is to adapt it somehow. So there'll be some happiness in between. So I think it's really positive that we'll get there, but it'll benefit everybody I think in the end. But you know, to give up something that's, again, very precious to these operators, there needs to be some force, you know. You need to have something with these mobile virtual network operations, like if you go to any country, there's now many mobile virtual network operators.

Is it something like the Telcos said, oh, we want to share some of our network and profits with the other competition. Why, should I, right? If I don't need to? If you're forced to, if there's regulations, yes they will. So I think there's a positive in the end that we will be getting benefits from it. Maybe David can go a bit more in detail about it, but that's from what I'm looking at it, there'll be a positive from this decentralisation of the data. But I don't think it'll ever be like a full-fledged, you know, you can control all your data and, and we won't have any of it kind of thing. Unfortunately.

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

I don't, yeah so totally agree with Mark. I think, you know, self-sovereign digital identity is gonna be the killer app of Web 3 and or the technologies coming together that haven't taken off yet for a number of reasons. What is interesting is we start to see a couple of things, right? So, we start to see a push for wallets. So, I believe we're moving towards a world of wallets. Mark mentioned it earlier. Absolutely agree. The wallet will be the interface to the customer, and the wallet will be the new OS that the customer uses to access services, right? Now what is driving the wallet, right? What is the single sign on to the wallet is gonna be identity and digital identity and verifiable credentials.

And it's interesting to see, um, with the European Union, EI dash 2.0, you know, where they're not mandating, but they're stating, you know, and declaring that they want to have a European identity wallet for all European citizens, right? And organisations. And we're actually working with them on the wallets for identities, wallets for devices, and the identities for devices. Now, I think the wallet, the drive to the wallets also is in the private sector, you're seeing banks move into the wallet business. One of the biggest wallets in M three, MetaMask is owned by Consensus, which is owned by JP Morgan. And you're seeing Apple Wallet using their wallet to start launching pay now, buy now pay later services, and in indeed, other financial services.

So it becomes very important. Now, what role does the telcos have to play in this? Now, obviously the wallet is on the phone. The telcos are trusted. We have authentication at the edge. So I think there is a role that we can play both in the move to wallet, and in the digital identity. Now, if you look at some of the things that are working in digital identity, so something called mobile connect is often used, where you access financial services and they can check your IP they can check that the SIM on your phone has not been swapped, they can check your KYC credential, et cetera. So that's already been moved. And, it's very clear that the carrier you know for checking credentials will be mobile, right? So, I think that that's already something there.

Now, what will cause or lead to digital identity really taking off? Because at the moment there's been a lot of people working in it. It's not taken off, right? It's the killer app that hasn't taken off. I think the government will be one of them. I think the other one will be telcos share with the shared number of subscribers and the trust and the authentication, and the fact we're already doing KYC. And I think that will be infrastructure that will be used by applications on Web 2 and Web 3 to take it forward. Now, the decentralised side of it just basically means that it changes the ownership from fragmented ownership at the moment where different platforms own your identity or aspects of your identity and your data, right? To one where, where individuals own it. Now, who can control that better? I think maybe individuals. Where does the model for verifiable credentials and issuers and these things fit better. I think it's within individuals. Now how telcos adapt to individual control is part of the business model change and part of the operating model change. But I absolutely think telcos will be at the forefront and the core of digital identity going forward.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

And just, jumping on that, I mean, there's one use case for the telcos, but you know, every telco operator, they have a fraud, a blacklist of companies or people that they don't do business with for various reasons. So, everyone has their own and then having us like decentralised where all the telcos could actually share that data and maybe benefit from that as well. That could be something cool as well that we're you know having, and then maybe you are signing up for or contract through our operator could be easier and make less issues for a consumer. But definitely that's one use case that I thought about as well, that could be used too.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

Okay. Very interesting. So Telcos become/acting more as a verifier of credentials.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

Well, they already are. They need to, in order for you to sign up to Vodafone phone or anyone you need to pass the process, right? They do some credential checks on you, right? That's normal. It's like going to a bank, right? But they have their local ones and then it’s very difficult because you might have just moved from a state and then go there. So it's to have one that would be on the blockchain that could be shared amongst the telcos and automatically updated and, you know, through a smart contract is an amazing use case. I think we're going forward here.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

Well, exciting things that are happening. Anyway, how I want you to kind of wrap it up is, I’m asking what are you most excited about in your work? What are you doing that you are really excited about? Maybe something that will happen really soon or something you are working on, or something you are planning. Mark, maybe you start, what are you most excited about?

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

Yeah, I’m just practical. I've got some, uh, friends, for example in Nigeria and we're launching there and we've got the B2C version of the Super App. And basically I'm just getting feedback. Like I'm able to now have employees in essence, working and doing some, through calls or doing some PR for me. And, basically I can send instant tokens to their wallet, pay them instantaneously, and they're like genuinely saying, thank you - you changed my life otherwise I wouldn't have been able to have a bank account. I mean, how would I send them money now through Western Union, it's 15 percent commission that’s just ludicrous. So, that really, and genuinely gives me pleasure.

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

Yeah, I think for me the digital asset broker platform that I co-founded in Vodafone which is combining Web 3 with IOT, to have, um, these automatic transactions between IOT devices you know leveraging digital identity is something I'm really excited about. So, we are starting to do a lot of stuff in EV charging and move into the mobility sector. And I'm really excited about how that can change the landscape of IOT to start bringing more monetization because when devices have the ability to move across organisation boundaries and to transact with each other, it's opening a lot of new monetization models. So I'm very excited about that.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

What stage are you with this platform?

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

So it's live. It was announced in February, 2022. We are now rolling out more scale, so it was live in the UK. We're now gonna start moving across Europe. We are now working with a lot in the mobility sector. We're on real use cases, so EV charging is one of them, but we're extending that to what we call pay by car and sell through car. And yeah we're excited. Supply chain and logistics is another use case that we are looking at - fleet spare capacity. So we're excited about what this can do. But the other real excitement I've got is with generative AI. And when you start linking that with the metaverse, you start linking that with IOT and Web 3 - it's really powerful. And I was looking at something over the weekend, where generative AI, you've got this voice to video where you could sort of say, you know, right, I wanna do a 15 minute advert and I want this character, and I wanted to do this and that. And it actually generates <laugh> the sort of filming or the video.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

Is that your application you're working on?

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

No, no, it's not our application. I'm just a fan. But I'm seeing the potential of this obviously leveraging, managed connectivity. I'm seeing this link with communications, 5G, Web 3, IOT, metaverse - it’s gonna be a game changer. It's truly exciting.

Mark Bystriansky, CEO of EMG and Emeldi Group

We should, we should connect if there's any of those ones that you're working on, could be a good fit for the Super App? Let me know. So we can.

David Palmer, Business Lead for blockchain technology, Vodafone

Definitely, definitely Mark <laugh>.

Stefania Barbaglio, Financial Fox

Brilliant. Thank you so much for coming on the show. That was a great conversation and I look forward to having you back soon. Thanks.

ENDS

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