About the Consortium
The RAG Wangiri Blockchain Consortium is a coming together of telcos and vendors with a common interest in reducing the number of wangiri fraud calls received by phone users. The consortium does this by using blockchain technology to share intelligence in near to real time about actual wangiri calls that have already occurred. This data will help telcos and suppliers improve the algorithms and reference data used for the proactive management of future calls, increasing the likelihood of correctly identifying a wangiri call before the intended victim suffers harm.
Telcos and vendors can apply to join the RAG Wangiri Blockchain Consortium following a simple, two-step process:
1 – Create Profile
2 – Apply to Join
The blockchain was created through a partnership between the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a nonprofit association of telecoms risk managers, and Orillion Solutions, a technology business led by former senior managers in the telecoms industry. Orillion developed the blockchain and offered it free of charge to illustrate how a secure distributed ledger can be used to exchange information of this type. RAG's primary role is to review requests to join the consortium, with the intention of preventing bad actors from influencing the management of the blockchain ledger. Otherwise we consider this to be a community-led initiative, where collective decisions will be made by consortium members, sometimes using the blockchain itself to communicate their preferences.
All kinds of retail and wholesale communication providers are welcome to join the consortium. There are no geographical limits on who may join because wangiri is a global problem. Relevant suppliers may also join the consortium, and we encourage them to modify their products and services to make it easier for customers to upload wangiri data they already have whilst taking advantage of the opportunity to analyse a much more extensive repository of intelligence than would otherwise be available to them. Access is granted for free on condition that the consortium member feeds new data into the ledger, as well as making use of the data it already contains. However, to encourage more widespread use we also intend to introduce a charging mechanism for reputable parties that wish to obtain information about wangiri calls without having any to give. As the size of the consortium grows we expect these charges to provide the income needed to keep access to the blockchain free of charge for other consortium members.
The development of the technology began in April 2019 after RAG's Steering Committee approved the creation of a prototype blockchain ledger to test the technology's potential for exchanging data about fraud. Wangiri was selected as the use case because of a recent and significant rise in the number of customers affected and because it was considered unlikely that there would objections to sharing telephone numbers controlled by fraudsters. A wide range of telcos and vendors were asked if they would like to take part in the pilot, and a surprisingly high number connected to the prototype and actively shared data. The pilot was run from mid-2019 to the end of the year, successfully proving the concept, the technology and the demand for a data exchange mechanism of this type. The pilot was decommissioned in early 2020 and then replaced with a full production version that incorporated several enhancements requested by consortium members during the pilot.
The feedback gathered from telcos that participated in the pilot was uniformly encouraging. For example Morgan Ramsey, Global Fraud Manager at Vodafone Group, explained why his business is a member of the consortium:
“Wangiri is a global problem, impacting millions of customers every day. For far too long, telcos have tackled wangiri from a local perspective and in a reactive way. The continued growth of wangiri has clearly shown that this is not effective and we need to change our approach, both as individual operators and as an industry. Collaboration between telcos, principally in the form of sharing best practice and intelligence, is a ‘no brainer’ in this environment and greatly increases our chances of frustrating the fraudsters and protecting our customers. 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.”