The Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a not-for-profit association of telecoms risk managers, has launched the RAG Wangiri Blockchain.
This a system whereby the consortium’s members use blockchain technology to share intelligence about ‘one-ring’ wangiri frauds in real time.
Many telcos will have the option to connect seamlessly with the blockchain because their suppliers are integrating existing anti-fraud systems via an API to the blockchain.
Any business that uploads its wangiri data to the blockchain will be allowed to access it without charge. RAG hopes to persuade all phone companies worldwide to join the RAG Wangiri Blockchain initiative.
Wangiri is the Japanese for ‘one cut’. Users receive calls from unfamiliar numbers that end as soon as they begin ringing, luring victims into dialling an expensive destination. Wangiri is a global problem that affects millions of customers daily. So far, telcos have reacted to it locally, but the continuing growth of the fraud shows this is not effective.
A new US law, the TRACED Act, requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to identify ways to tackle wangiri, and other governments have placed increasing pressure on telcos to act.
Last year, 35 businesses participated in a pilot of the wangiri blockchain, successfully sharing data about 21,000 fraud attacks covering 150 countries. The newly released production version of the wangiri blockchain is scaled to work on a global level, and will allow telcos and other businesses to exchange data without needing to install any new hardware or software.
Cost and speed
Eric Priezkalns, Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group, explained, “Fraudsters keep changing their methods, so the greatest barriers to exchanging intelligence are cost and speed. If the methods used are too slow, and too expensive, then the costs outweigh the benefits.
“RAG’s technical partners at Orillion Solutions have developed a blockchain ledger that is faster and more easily accessible than anything telcos have used to share fraud data before. Then we asked leading suppliers of fraud systems to link their products to the blockchain, harnessing data that telcos already collected but could not previously share efficiently.
“It is thrilling to see how positively telcos and vendors have reacted to this opportunity to collaborate on a problem that blights all phone users everywhere.”
Major providers like Vodafone Group have already joined the RAG Wangiri Blockchain Consortium.
Morgan Ramsey, Group Fraud Manager at Vodafone, said, “For Vodafone this of course gives us a better chance of reducing the number of irritating calls received by our customers, but for us it goes beyond that and we want to work with other operators to tackle the problem on behalf of our industry. The RAG Wangiri Blockchain has the potential to play a big role in our continued fight against wangiri.”