“When the dollar was the currency in the twentieth century, banks made a fortune by selling trust.
If data is the new currency, who’s going to sell trust in the twenty-first century?”
Anthony Behan on TM Forum’s Inform.
Anthony also states in his blockchain-centric article, “The telco has a trusted position – even more trusted than government and banks — in most economies. There is an enormous opportunity to take that trusted position and make trust itself the heart of the telco value proposition in the coming decades.”
Great insights that I tend to agree with, some of which have been mentioned here on PAOSS before. A couple of other thoughts to add to the mix:
- Telcos already have the billing engines to drive massive transaction volumes and their subscribers have (relative) trust in those transactions
- Telcos don’t rely on raking off a variety of middle-man fees on financial transactions (major generalisation there!), so unlike the financial institutions, the introduction of cryptocurrencies / blockchain won’t destroy telco business models (ie banks, clearing houses, etc may be more hesitant to introduce blockchain than telcos because it cannibalises their business models)
- To extend on Anthony’s concept that banks made a fortune selling trust, I’d say that banks made a fortune by facilitating trade (which happened to be based around the trusted intermediary – cash). As the saying goes, “it takes money to make money.” Alternatively, “it takes assets traded using money to make money.”
- I slightly disagree with Anthony that data is the new currency though. Blockchain is the new trusted intermediary that facilitates trade. Data is only the asset that people want to trade for, not the trust mechanism suggested by Anthony. To paraphrase the saying for the information economy, “it takes data (traded using blockchain) to make money”
- Anthony’s final landing point has great merit, although I’ll add a slight spin – who’s going to facilitate trade (not just sell trust) in the twenty-first century? There are two facets to this:
- Can the telcos disrupt the facilitation of trade by making blockchain (as a cryptocurrency) the trust mechanism instead of cash
- Can telcos also further facilitate trade by helping digital businesses connect and transact? The likes of Facebook and Google currently facilitate trade connections via the digital marketing tools they offer (ie the funnel of the value-chain) and are making a fortune. The telcos have massive subscriber lists that they could be helping to connect and transact across a more complete proportion of their value-chains (from concept to marketing to sale to maintain). Blockchain could again be the linchpin to support this (although this time as a smart contract, not just a currency). Anthony’s “data” will be another plank
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