& cplSiteName &

Telefónica: In APIs We Trust

Ray Le Maistre
LR Mobile News Analysis
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief

Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF)'s Jose Valles wants to make one thing very clear about his company's new mobile payments Application Programing Interface (API) program, which has already attracted Telenor ASA (Nasdaq: TELN) as a partner: This is not WAC version 2.0. (See Telefónica, Telenor Team on APIs and WAC Beefs Up Its App Pack .)

There are a lot of similarities between the aspirations of BlueVia -- the unit of Telefónica Digital that Valles leads -- and those of the now defunct Wholesale Applications Community (WAC). Both aim (or aimed, in WAC's case) to provide applications developers with a quicker route to mobile users and make it easier for those users to access and purchase apps. (See Wave Goodbye to WAC.)

WAC, which was always closely associated with the GSM Association (GSMA) , was pulled down by having too many companies trying to steer the ship and lacking a specific focus on certain capabilities, says Valles. The GSMA, which is now managing WAC's legacy initiatives and programs, "are good guys but there were 42 operators around a table trying to get a consensus. ... We have the same agenda and the same focus, but we are going to build it from the basement up, not from the roof down," Valles says.

Valles adds, during a media briefing in London late Wednesday: "We don't need 42 operators to make this work. We will start with a few and build it slowly. We're trying to create an industry standard and change the industry's dynamics. Telcos can become trusted providers of [not only] their own services but also of approved products and services from third parties. We won't be chasing everyone to join. We'll talk to those who are interested and bring new partners on board as our bandwidth allows. But we're not going to have 42. ... WAC tried to do everything."

And in terms of focus, Telefónica and Telenor are targeting the development of a standard API that enables direct-to-bill payments (allowing people to buy all sorts of apps, services and goods using their mobile bill/credit). "This is a major pain point and the low-hanging fruit," notes Valles. "It's that focus that attracted Telenor. We're going to put all our attention on this and prove some stuff. I know of one operator that talked about opening up 72 different APIs. We're starting with one."

But it's important that other operators beyond Telenor share the BlueVia vision, explains Valles. "The developers want multiple operators involved. We, Telefónica, tried initially on our own, but one operator is not enough."

Valles isn't identifying any other potential carrier partners just now, but there's a group of mobile operators that are natural prime candidates. That's because a key ally for Valles is Apigee Corp. , BlueVia's API management platform partner and the company that acquired the WAC technology assets. (See Apigee Unleashes an API Free-for-All and Telefonica Partners With Apigee.)

Among those technology assets was the WAC payment API, which has been adopted by a host of major operators in addition to Telefónica and Telenor. Those operators include AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), the South Korean trio of KT Corp. , LG Telecom , SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM) and Smart Communications Inc. of The Philippines.

Working out a roadmap
Valles says BlueVia is holding a workshop next week with Telenor to try to "pin down a roadmap for where we need to go."

A key part of that roadmap will involve highlighting the potential benefits to those involved in the payments ecosystem -- operators, direct-to-bill payment partners such as Facebook , Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), and developers -- apart from the obvious financial gains from increased customer traction.

A key potential benefit is a greater understanding of user behavior and hard data about the popularity of apps. Valles says the focus on direct-to-bill capabilities will enable BlueVia to "analyze [transaction] data and see the hot users trends. We don't know yet how we are going to work with the data but we'll be focusing on that."

It's one thing having the data, and another making use of that data -- mobile operators are sitting on a pile of gold, he notes, but their Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) systems were not designed to have their data extracted and analyzed. He'll be looking to his Telefónica Dynamic Insights colleagues for assistance in digging into the data at BlueVia's fingertips. (See Telefónica Creates 'Big Data' Unit.)

Making sense of data is just one of the many challenges facing BlueVia, though. Probably the greatest challenge is developing an environment that will encourage apps developers to turn their attention away from Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s APIs for a moment and create new services that hook into the BlueVia direct-to-bill interface.

Encouraging the developer community to engage with mobile operators has long been an issue and one that BlueVia has already been striving to address. (See BlueVia Tackles the App Gap.)

Again, Valles is looking to do things differently than before. Instead of appealing to apps specialists directly, BlueVia will "engage with the developers through the ecosystem," by which he means the payment platform partners such as Facebook. If BlueVia gets the model right, the developers need not even know that the telco initiative is involved.

In addition, there are the technical issues surrounding security, identity management and enabling access to payment interfaces via multiple access technologies (for example, Wi-Fi as well as mobile).

And after payments? Valles wants BlueVia to focus on one thing at a time but hints that future developments will likely focus on areas of strength for telcos -- communications. Apps with integrated, high-quality and secure multimedia communications capabilities could be a focus for the future, especially as Telefónica Digital has in-house smarts from its 2009 acquisition of Jajah. Those capabilities (from Jajah) have already been put to use in the development of the Tu Me unified communications app. (See Et Tu, Telefónica? and Telefónica Buys VoIP Player Jajah.)

Will BlueVia get that far down the road? That might depend on whether the payment API focus delivers on its potential.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Friday, October 21, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Evolving the Data Center
Rasool Kareem Irfan, Head, Telecom & Infrastructure Security Practice, Tata Communications Transformation Services Ltd (TCTS)
Wednesday, October 26, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Tackling DDoS
Gary Sockrider, Principal Security Technologist, Arbor Networks
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cliff Grossner on Cloud & Network Synergy From Carrier Service

10|18|16   |     |   (0) comments

Local carriers offer the collaborated cloud and network service that benefits from their understanding of the regulations operating in different vertical markets.
In this interview, Cliff Grossner from IHS Technology talks about how this advanced service can support business agility and flexibility.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX's Plan for DOCSIS Deployment

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join VeEX's CEO Cyrille Morelle and Light Reading's Alan Breznick as they discuss VeEX's new products at SCTE 2016 at Philadelphia.
LRTV Custom TV
Smith Micro's Carrier-Grade WiFi Component

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Carol Wilson of Light Reading as she interviews the CTO of Smith Micro, Dave Sperling.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Amazon Unlimited, Alexa, AI & How to Cut Off Google at Its Knees
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/14/2016
WiCipedia: Following Women on Twitter... and on Stage
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 10/14/2016
US Issues Total Flight Ban on Samsung Note 7
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/15/2016
Oh Snap! Qualcomm Unveils X50, Its First 5G Modem
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 10/17/2016
Verizon Wants More Data on Yahoo Breach
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/20/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.