& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
From The Founder
Download our complete guide to de-risking NFV deployment in 2016, including:
  • An eight-step strategy to deploying NFV safely, based on input from the companies that have already started virtualizing their production networks.
  • Interviews with leading executives at Colt, AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Cisco, Nokia, ZTE, Ericsson and Heavy Reading.
  • Flash Poll
    Live Streaming Video
    Prepping for the Future: Upskill U Explained
    During this short kick-off video, Doug Webster, Vice President of Service Provider Marketing, Cisco, and Light Reading’s CEO & Founder Steve Saunders give an overview of Upskill U.
    LRTV Documentaries
    LRTV Report: Mobile Core Innovation

    4|28|16   |   25:32   |   (0) comments


    Hear from multiple industry experts from Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom, Heavy Reading, Huawei, Cisco, Ericsson, Nokia, NEC and many more about developments in the mobile core as operators virtualize their IMS and evolved packet core systems and prepare for a 5G world.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    NFV World Congress Highlight

    4|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


    The highlight of the NFV World Congress contains exciting telecom news. Join us for an inside look at Huawei's ICT 2020 plan and its latest collaboration with industry leaders.
    LRTV Interviews
    Unified Comms Finds Its Voice

    4|25|16   |   03:44   |   (0) comments


    Peter Quinlan, VP of UCC Product Management at Tata Communications, talks about the evolution of the unified communications and collaboration services sector and how voice is now a big part of current developments.
    LRTV Documentaries
    So... What Do We Do Now?

    4|25|16   |   03:24   |   (0) comments


    After a long hiatus, Max Dingman, the CEO of a GeeGhiz, returns for a motivational board room pep talk.
    LRTV Documentaries
    NAB 2016 Highlights

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Light Reading's Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick climbs down from the slots to tell us about the latest news in broadcast technology at NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Deepfield's Craig Labovitz

    4|21|16   |     |   (0) comments


    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Shades of Ray
    Leading Lights 2016: Shortlists Announced

    4|20|16   |   0:53   |   (0) comments


    The judging is over and the Leading Lights 2016 shortlists have been published -- you can see who made the cut by clicking on this link.
    LRTV Custom TV
    Introducing MulteFire – Qualcomm at MWC 2016

    4|18|16   |   3.29   |   (0) comments


    MulteFire is the latest option for using LTE in unlicensed spectrum. As oppose to its close 'siblings', LAA and LTE-U, MulteFire operates solely in unlicensed spectrum, which enables it to offer the best of two worlds – LTE-like performance with WiFi-like deployment simplicity. In this interview, Sanjeev Athalye, Sr. Director, Product Management at Qualcomm ...
    Between the CEOs
    CEO Chat: Grant Van Rooyen of Cologix

    4|18|16   |     |   (0) comments


    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
    ONS 2016 – Demonstration of Huawei's NetMatrix Multi-Vendor SDN Orchestrator

    4|15|16   |     |   (0) comments


    This demonstration shows how Huawei's NetMatrix SDN Orchestrator (SDN-O) addresses an operator's core service agility needs for services spanning multi-domain, multivendor networks: it includes a demonstration of:
    - Rapid New Service Design: using YANG to model a complex example of multi-domain, multivendor L3VPN network connectivity service that ...
    LRTV Custom TV
    AT&T Wants to Own North Carolina

    4|15|16   |     |   (1) comment


    Venessa Harrison, president of North Carolina for AT&T, tells how the company will expand its GigaPower service beyond the seven N.C. cities it already serves.

  • This blog, sponsored by AT&T, is the second part of a ten-part series examining next-generation broadband technologies titled "Behind the Speeds."
  • LRTV Interviews
    Will NC Be First Gigabit State?

    4|15|16   |     |   (1) comment


    Alan Fitzpatrick, co-founder of Charlotte Hearts Gigabit, spells out the state's progress in at least starting to wire nearly every major market for gigabit service.
    Upcoming Live Events
    May 23, 2016, Austin, TX
    May 23, 2016, Austin Convention Center
    May 24-25, 2016, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
    December 6-8, 2016,
    June 16-18, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
    All Upcoming Live Events
    Infographics
    A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
    Hot Topics
    Ultra-Broadband Summit, Hong Kong
    Iain Morris, News Editor, 4/27/2016
    GoT Fans Curse HBO (Not Right) Now
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/25/2016
    Analysts More Than Bullish on Comcast MVNO
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/22/2016
    Mitel Asks: What Time of Day Do You Shower?
    Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/25/2016
    Charter Jumps Gun on TWC Restructuring
    Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 4/26/2016
    Like Us on Facebook
    Twitter Feed
    BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
    In this latest installment of the CEO Chat series, Craig Labovitz, co-founder and CEO of Deepfield, sits down with Light Reading's Steve Saunders in Light Reading's New York City office to discuss how Deepfield fits in with the big data trend and more.
    Grant van Rooyen, president and CEO of Cologix, sits down with Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, in the vendor's New Jersey facility to offer an inside look at the company's success story and discuss the importance of security in the telecom industry.
    Animals with Phones
    Live Digital Audio

    Of all the tech companies in the Valley, Intel has made the most aggressive commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace culture. It's doing so by taking concrete, measurable steps, making a large financial investment and through a commitment to complete transparency about its progress. In this radio show, WiC Director Sarah Thomas will be joined by Shlomit Weiss, Intel's Vice President, Data Center Group, and General Manager of Networking Engineering, who will share with us why Intel is tackling this huge challenge, how and to what effect. She will also discuss her unique experiences leading development of Client SOC development in the past and today leading development of all of the chipmaker's silicon hardware for networking IPs and discrete devices and managing a team of 600 engineers across Israel, Europe and the US.