Light Reading
Telefónica Digital's BlueVia is on a mission to bring telcos, APIs, Web services platforms and developers together – just don't mention WAC!

Telefónica: In APIs We Trust

Ray Le Maistre
LR Mobile News Analysis
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief
10/11/2012
50%
50%

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
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With CEO of SwitchCom

10|30|14   |   4:13   |   (0) comments


SwitchCom, an IT company based in Angola, recommends a variety of Huawei solutions and hardware to their customers in the energy industry.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy

10|30|14   |   4:08   |   (0) comments


Gosaye Mengistie of Ethiopia's Ministry of Water Irrigation & Energy discusses the collaboration with Huawei in that country.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Dongfang Electronics Corporation

10|30|14   |   5:46   |   (0) comments


Dongfang Electronics Corporation, headquartered in Chengdu, China, is one of China's largest manufacturers of power generators and contractors of power station projects.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview with Zimbabwe's Customers

10|30|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Zimbabwe's Ministry of Power and Development discuss the energy needs of their country as well as new areas of improvement due to enhanced ICT capabilities.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Colbún Chile

10|30|14   |   4:29   |   (0) comments


In Chile, an aging energy infrastructure was in dire need of a modern update. Claudio Valenzuela of Colbún discusses how Huawei's ICT solutions continue to provide crucial information to improve the grid and how an in-country engineer is a cricial asset.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With YuLiao

10|30|14   |   6:27   |   (0) comments


Yu Liao, chairman of the Chinese Association for Renewable Energy in Germany, discusses the role that ICT solutions play in helping to grow renewable energy resources in Germany.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview

10|30|14   |   2:54   |   (0) comments


Sifang has been working with Huawei on several projects. JingTao Wu, Assistant President of Beijing Sifang Automation Co. Ltd., believes that the cooperation with Huawei can facilitate Sifang's process of internationalization.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Better Connected Smart Grid: Powering Laos

10|30|14   |   5:38   |   (0) comments


Representatives of Electricite Du Laos (EDL), a state-owned corporation, discuss the importance of ICT solutions in serving their country's energy needs.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
2014 Huawei Electric Power Industry Summit: Interview With Junwei Lu

10|30|14   |   4:50   |   (0) comments


Professor Junwei Lu of Griffith University Australia describes his work with micro grid technology and the future of the power industry.
LRTV Documentaries
The Next-Gen Network Disconnect

10|29|14   |   01:23   |   (0) comments


There's a lot of talk about making networks more simple with SDN, NFV and next-gen broadband technology – but what about the complexity of introducing such capabilities?
LRTV Custom TV
Grow Your VPN Service Revenue

10|27|14   |   4:00   |   (0) comments


Watch how CSP product managers can better differentiate and maximize the value of their Internet, VPN and cloud services for business services customers, by adding premium application performance visibility to their data services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Add SmartSense to Make Your Network Ready for 4K

10|27|14   |   3:23   |   (0) comments


To make current networks ready for the coming 4K TV challenges, Huawei SmartSense solution will conveniently add experience and operation capabilities to boost telcos' future business.
Upcoming Live Events
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 30, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
WhoIsHostingThis.com presents six of the world's most extreme WiFi hotspots, enabling the most epic selfies you can imagine.
Hot Topics
Microsoft's Skype Embraces WebRTC on IE
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/27/2014
FTC Slaps AT&T With Throttling Lawsuit
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 10/28/2014
China's MVNOs Hit the Wall
Robert Clark, 10/27/2014
Let's Not Kill SDN & NFV With Silos
Francois Locoh-Donou, Senior VP, Global Products Group, Ciena, 10/28/2014
Wheeler Gets Down With OTT
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 10/29/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed