Wangiri fraud has risen sharply in recent years, blighting customers with unwanted calls and tricking the unwary into dialing expensive destinations. That is why RAG partnered with Orillion to develop the prototype of a new kind of data exchange that would allow telcos to easily and rapidly share information about wangiri fraud using blockchain technology. The production version of the RAG Wangiri Blockchain is now live, following the successful completion of last year’s pilot project. The results of that pilot exceeded all expectations:
- First to market: the first peer was connected within three months of concept approval
- Scale: 35 telcos and vendors connected to the pilot blockchain, exchanging data relating to a cumulative subscriber base of over 750 million phone users
- Coverage: over 21,000 sources of fraud from over 150 countries where shared during the pilot
- Trust: the blockchain technology securely synchronized data between peers without any interruptions
These outcomes contrast sharply with traditional approaches to sharing fraud intelligence. Centralized databases are slow, and few telcos expend the effort needed to populate them. Orillion’s Hyperledger fabric blockchain technology means RAG can give telcos and their vendors a better way to share fraud intelligence through decentralized ownership and use of data.
Experts agree that adoption of the wangiri blockchain represents the way forward. For example, international fraud manager Morgan Ramsey said:
Wangiri is a global problem, impacting millions of customers every day. For far too long, telcos have tackled Wangiri from a local perspective and in a reactive way. The continued growth of Wangiri has clearly shown that this is not effective and we need to change our approach, both as individual operators and as an industry. Collaboration between telcos, principally in the form of sharing best practice and intelligence, is a ‘no brainer’ in this environment and greatly increases our chances of frustrating the fraudsters and protecting our customers. The RAG Wangiri Blockchain has the potential to play a big role in our continued fight against Wangiri.
Telcos with a more regional customer base also acknowledged the value of the wangiri blockchain. Goran Marić of HT Eronet, a telco operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina, had this to say:
Blockchain technology can become a game-changer for fraud detection and mitigation because it ensures security, transparency, and decentralization. This should be good trigger for telcos to join, share and use gathered data to tackle fraud in their organizations in a transparent way.
Several fraud technology vendors joined the anti-wangiri consortium. LATRO Services, a leading provider of fraud detection solutions said:
We believe our customers will benefit from our contributions and the contributions of other participants to the RAG-Orillion Wangiri Blockchain project. Access to timely and reliable information about confirmed phone numbers perpetrating wangiri fraud is required for proper control implementation. Without it, telecom operators are forced to remain in a reactionary position, ill-equipped to fully protect their subscribers and their businesses.
Feedback from the pilot project has influenced the design of the new version of the wangiri blockchain, which is now live. Key improvements include:
- The ability to connect to the blockchain without dedicated hardware
- A short and simple two-step automated process for authenticating and approving new users
- Records enhanced with community-based scores of the perceived quality of data
- The ability to connect the ledger to a fraud management system or to network blocking technology
- Advanced analytics providing insights at a local, regional and global level
- Tokenization to reward consortium members who share most intelligence
The success of the pilot encouraged Subex, a leading supplier of fraud management systems, to make the wangiri blockchain accessible to all existing users of the Subex ROC FMS. Neural Technologies has also agreed to make the wangiri blockchain accessible via their FMS. Other suppliers are currently negotiating to join the consortium with a similar intention to link the data maintained by their systems to the blockchain via an API. Reducing the burden on telcos by harnessing their existing investment in fraud systems should lead to far more data pouring into this common repository.
Collective intelligence is the combined capacity and capability of a community or group to solve problems or perform tasks as a result of knowledge sharing. We can see the benefits of collective intelligence in nature, in society, and increasingly through the technological evolution of the digital age. The wangiri fraud use case is an important stepping stone towards using the technology to tackle other frauds.
For more information about the RAG Wangiri Blockchain Consortium, and the opportunity to join, take a look at the consortium portal.