LG to test cross-carrier payments network

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South Korean cellular carrier LG Uplus, a unit of LG, says early next year it will launch a test of a blockchain-based overseas payment system that will allow international travelers to make mobile payments through various carrier services.

The cross-carrier payment platform will also include Taiwan-based Far EasTone Telecommunications and Japan-based SoftBank, all through the work of project partner and blockchain provider U.S.-based TBCASoft.

Essentially, the platform allows subscribers from one carrier service to complete transactions on the payment networks of another carrier, the Korea Times reports. In that regard, LG Uplus customers will be able to make purchases at retailers in Taiwan and Japan, while Far EasTone subscribers could do the same when traveling to Korea or Japan.

LG Uplus says it is the first time it has offered such an international mobile payment system to its subscribers.

The announcement of the platform comes about a year after the same companies joined with Sprint to form the Carrier Blockchain Study Group to focus on joint development of a blockchain platform specifically for telecom carriers. The group hopes to advance various services for global payments, clearing and settlement, personal authentication, Internet of Things applications and other services using the distributed ledger capabilities of blockchain.

Blockchain generally does not need third-party intermediaries and operates as a peer-to-peer network with many participants providing computing power. It is touted by supporters as a more secure, decentralized system than those used in traditional banks or brokerage firms.

"As the blockchain consortium grows faster than expected, we are entering a new stage of launching real-world trials that demonstrate the commercial readiness of the TBCASoft blockchain platform," Ling Wu, founder and CEO of TBCASoft and co-chairman of the blockchain consortium, said in the report.

Banks have formed R3, their own consortium to advance blockchain technology at financial institutions, but it has had a choppy ride with many major banks dropping out to concentrate on other efforts. Still, R3 attracted its first major funding from its members about a year ago to keep the research moving forward.

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