India borrows blockchain to fix its spamming epidemic

Starting this month, Indian telcos have begun rolling out blockchain-based tech that will help protect telecom subscribers from spam calls and texts at the behest of the country’s regulator TRAI.  

Large scale adoption is top of every crypto fan’s wish list. But we never thought the Indian government would come out in as Bitcoin’s biggest champion. There’s a touch of incongruity that a state currently mulling mandatory 10-year jail sentences for crypto users is behind the biggest implementation of blockchain technology in the known universe.

But desperate measures call for extreme solutions. Last year, the average Indian received 22.2 spam calls a month, according to data from phone-number identification app Truecaller. The Stockholm-based startup, says that India has the highest overall volume of spam calls and texts in the world.

TRAI has tried all manner of methods to curb the spamming pestilence, and has reluctantly come to the conclusion that there’s only one thing for it.

“The Indian Government is formulating appropriate regulations to promote adoption of blockchain technology, not just for the sake of technology, but to solve tough problems that were hitherto unsolved and provide a completely new experience to end users,” Rajesh Dhuddu, global practice leader for blockchain at leading IT service provider Tech Mahindra, told Decrypt.

The IT giant, produced the “flagship” anti-spam blockchain technology being implemented by telecom providers Jio Infocomm.

“We played a major role in helping Indian telecommunications companies meet the TRAI’s guidelines against unsolicited communications,” said Dhuddu.

India’s telecommunication network is the second largest in the world (after China) and Tech Mahindra’s award-winning tech safeguards over 300 million subscribers from spam calls, commanding a 25 per cent share of the market.

But the company, valued at $4.9 billion, is just one of the dozens of IT providers, telcos and others involved in this mammoth project. India’s two other major providers, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, have teamed up with IBM and local firm Tanla Solutions, respectively, to deploy the anti-spam blockchain technology.

A project of this scale will cost the telcos a pretty penny (we’ll update with figures should they come available.) So industry experts suggest they may also use the blockchain tech for other purposes, such as mobile number portability, bill payments, and supply chain logistics.

But that’s jumping ahead of ourselves. As IBM, Tech Mahindra and Tanla go head to head, with their rival anti-spam tech, the industry will be looking on with great interest. If their ground-breaking projects are  a success, there’s plenty more spam around the rest of the world that needs mopping up.

But here’s a curious thing: the Truecaller study also found that telecom firms make 90 percent of India’s spam themselves. Trrrrrrring.

 

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