Vodafone brings on blockchain buddy in IoT monetisation drive

  • Economy of Things JV Vodafone DAB demonstrates potential of smart contracts for IoT customers, leveraging Chainlink tie-up.
  • Interoperable data exchange capabilities at the heart of new partnership.
  • Proof-of-concept provides secure document transfer for cargo shipping industry, but Vodafone DAB’s David Palmer wants to “mainstream” smart contract technology.

Vodafone brings on blockchain buddy in IoT monetisation drive

Source: Venti Views / Unsplash

Vodafone DAB, the Group’s Economy of Things joint venture with Japanese ally Sumitomo Corporation, partnered Chainlink Labs to showcase interoperable digital receipt transfer for marine cargo between multiple parties and several blockchains.

Through the partnership, Vodafone DAB aims to demonstrate “seamless” data exchange by leveraging Chainlink’s Cross-Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP). CCIP ensures diverse platforms, blockchains, and Internet of Things (IoT) assets can communicate without compromising security, via a “single simple interface”. Often, Vodafone, noted, secure document transfer is encumbered by a “fragmented” network of disparate systems.

“ Vodafone DAB and Chainlink are showing how their platforms can be combined to cut through this sea of incompatibility by bridging traditional markets with advanced decentralised platforms. ”

Jorge Bento, Chief Executive at Vodafone DAB.

Vodafone DAB is a standalone JV between the Group and Sumitomo that emerged after Vodafone spun out its DAB platform in May 2023 (Vodafonewatch, #216 and #217). CEO Bento said the JV became commercially active in August 2023, when it signed one of its first major partnerships, with Aventus Networks (Vodafonewatch, #219). At that point, the JV was known internally as DABCo, but with some talk of a rebrand to come. In the latest Vodafone reports, the operation is referred to simply as Vodafone DAB. The Chainlink partnership and proof-of-concept was conducted in collaboration with technology consultancy InnoWave.

Vodafone described the Chainlink partnership as “central” to the development of Vodafone DAB. The software services company develops the Chainlink decentralised computing platform, which is underpinned by ‘oracles’ — the links between so-called ‘smart’ blockchain-based contracts and physical, “off-chain” events.

Crucially, Vodafone DAB was named a Chainlink node operator, with credentials to secure data exchange for enterprise customers.

This, said Vodafone DAB Chief Product Officer David Palmer, brings with it potential to “mainstream business with smart contracts”, providing “new monetisation opportunities” for IoT devices. Vodafone DAB aims to use its Chainlink deal to demonstrate the capabilities of DAB-enabled devices and blockchains to simplify and track data transfers, highlighting smart contract use-cases for IoT customers.

Vodafone regularly talks up its prominent seat in the IoT market, claiming to connect more than 162 million devices in 190 countries at last count at the end of the year to 31 March 2023 (FY22–23). Connections growth in that year represented a plateau despite a series of partnerships in the field, but Group CEO Margherita Della Valle reiterated that the operator occupies a “world leading position” in an industry that “continues to mature and grow” (Vodafonewatch, #217).

Revenue from the IoT business was not shared in the Group’s most recent Annual Report, but Chief Technology Officer Scott Petty claimed that revenue had “approached” €1bn (£870m) in early-2023 (up from €900m in FY21–22).

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