Industry giant China Telecom has just put out a whitepaper outlining the details of its ‘5G blockchain phone.’ The state-owned telecommunications company unveiled the document at the recent China International Artificial Intelligence Industry Fair.

Another state-led industry giant in giant is dabbling in the blockchain space and plans to even release their own smartphone on the technology, local financial news outlet Sina reported earlier this week. The company released its whitepaper on the concept as well.

The China Telecom Corporation is a behemoth in its industry, serving in 153M customers in 2017. It boasts an annual revenue of CN¥352.285 billion and has some 287,000 employees.

A Blockchain Phone Sponsored by the Chinese Government

The telecom giant told the audience at the recent China International Artificial Intelligence Industry Fair that blockchain can help consumers control their own digital assets and data in the 5G era. As of now, blockchain adoption in the mobile industry remains low. Some companies, like Samsung, have dabbled in this sector but mass production has yet to be realized. China Telecom looks to change this and establish a precedent.

The purpose of China Telecom’s ‘blockchain phone’ will be multifold. Firstly, blockchain technology will better prevent cases of fraud, loss of data, and cyber-crime. The phone will also support the management of digital assets via the mobile device. All information on China Telecom’s product will be encrypted through blockchain. The supposed quasi-decentralized system will also be able to identify blacklisted phones and identify them easier, the whitepaper states.

Altogether, the whitepaper outlines 5 major areas where blockchain can greatly benefit 5G networks and users.

  • Digital identity verification: to allow for secure authentication practices for better fraud protection.
  • Financial applications: also a security issue, financial assets can be easily traced and managed safely.
  • Judicial functions: China has a rapidly-modernizing judicial system which is going digital. Blockchain phones are the next step to access these documents via mobile securely.
  • Supply-chain tracking: small businesses and suppliers can easily and safely track their stock.
  • Delivery functions: everyday consumers can authenticate and track packages knowing that their information won’t be compromised.

China Telecom’s proposal is the most ambitious one on blockchain phones to date, though we’re unsure when to expect a working product.

A New Industry?

The blockchain sector has been slow to apply itself to the mobile industry. One notable exception is the Taiwanese-made blockchain phone by HTC. However, it is only crypto-friendly and cannot be said to be fully blockchain-run. It seems that China Telecom is trying to do things a bit differently, running more functions on a distributed ledger system than competitors.

Do you believe applying blockchain to mobile phones could prove to be the ‘next big thing’ for the industry?

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