Block Gemini: streamlining Vodafone's CCM
Christopher Fernandez was already a serial tech entrepreneur when he founded Block Gemini in 2016. Since then the Dubai-based company never looked back, meeting a growing demand for blockchain implementations particularly in the supply chain and fintech space. “The fact that we are now working with a company like Vodafone on a truly innovative blockchain project is testament to what we’ve been able to achieve in such a short span of time,” he says. Cryptocurrencies like Ether and Bitcoin may have been what got everyone talking about blockchain, but Block Gemini is bullish about its long term potential to disrupt many industries. Enterprises are waking up to this technology and its tremendous operational upside, as shown by Block Gemini's rapid expansion of its operations to Canada, India – and with the support of Tomorrow Street, a joint venture between Vodafone and Luxembourg's national incubator Technoport, to Luxembourg.
Any industry that deals with transactional ecosystems that are tracked and monitored digitally can be greatly improved through the use of blockchain technology. “The project we’re currently deploying for Vodafone, using blockchain and smart contracts to manage complex contractual agreements with their suppliers, is an example of the value that blockchain can create. Of course, managing procurement contracts is not specific to the telecoms industry, but there are many other areas specific to the telecoms industry that can benefit from the use of blockchain.”
In 2020 Block Gemini went into partnership with Vodafone Procurement Company (VPC) to tap distributed ledger technology (DLT) and help Vodafone transform into a digital procurement company. VPC manages a growing portfolio of some 50,000 contracts. Manual processes were time-consuming and vulnerable to human error. Another problem was that VPC and its suppliers maintain multiple versions of the same contracts during the negotiation and reconciliation processes, resulting in longer contract lead-time and value leakages. Block Gemini's solution gives Vodafone a blockchain-based CCM platform that ensures compliance and identifies value leakages in its contracts. It brings transparency and cuts contract lead-times from weeks to minutes.
Over the last two years the collaborative relationship between Block Gemini and Vodafone developed from identifying opportunities with blockchain, to establishing a proof-of-value, building a POC, then a MVP, and on to the pilot stage. “Block Gemini has been supporting the project from its conceptual stage all the way to the deployment and maintenance of the solution. From consulting and advisory to services, to design and development, every aspect of the project has been managed and delivered by our dedicated in-house team - I believe this has been the strongest driver for our continuing partnership with Vodafone on this project. Considering Vodafone’s long term strategy for fully digitising their procurement operation, the project is only in its initial stages and I see Block Gemini bringing a lot of value to the future growth and expansion of this solution across their internal procurement systems.”
Fernandez has a lively appreciation of Vodafone’s welcoming attitude towards a startup like Block Gemini. “They provided a lot of support during our initiation into their supplier ecosystem, and once we were in we were given the chance to prove our capability.” Looking forward, he sees plenty of opportunities for ongoing collaboration. Tomorrow Street will now help Block Gemini to bring its services and expertise to Vodafone's wider circle of enterprise customers.
Blockchain has the power to transform the global telecoms ecosystem, Chris Fernandez concludes: “Take the example of fixed-line leasing services - huge amounts of bandwidth are bought and sold across millions of customers worldwide. These transactions need to be negotiated and settled between many discrete telecoms service providers, and that's a very resource-intensive process. With blockchain, the entire manual settlement could be replaced by a smart contract settled instantaneously!”
HMD Global launches “rugged” Nokia smartphones
Finnish mobile phone manufacturer HMD Global, often referred to as the home of Nokia, has launched three new smartphones for the brand, the Nokia XR20, the Nokia C30, and the Nokia 6310. The company is also expanding its portfolio of audio accessories.
Explaining the reason behind the launch of the devices, Florian Seiche, CEO, HMD Global, said: "We are tapping into consumer pain points around durability and longevity. We did a global trend report8 and found that 73% of consumers want to keep their phone for longer and would if their devices were maintained over time.
“At HMD, we are empowering people to avoid early device replacement and encouraging more sustainable consumption through our longevity promises. We are delighted to announce the Nokia XR20 – a life-proof phone2 with our trademark sleek, Nordic design that we built for both consumers and enterprises,” Seiche said.
The Nokia XR20: The “life-proof” phone
According to HMD Global, the Nokia XR20 is built for longevity and toughness. The company claims it can withstand extreme temperatures, falls from 1.8m above ground, and can survive being in water for up to an hour. Features include the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus screen, said to be the toughest glass ever manufactured.
To prove its durability, Brazillian footballer Roberto Carlos and female world champion freestyler Lisa Zimouche put the XR20 through several tests including placing it in icy water, kicking it, and spinning it screen side down across a concrete football pitch. Carlos also kicked the phone in a move that recreated his infamous “banana shot” last seen in the Brazil vs France match in 1997.
Roberto Carlos, Brazil World Cup winner and Real Madrid legend, said: “I’ve been asked to recreate my ’97 free kick many times over the last twenty years, but never like this before, so I had to accept the challenge. Surely a mobile phone couldn’t survive the wrath of a football. I didn’t think the Nokia XR20 could have withstood the power of my kick. I may not be professional anymore, but I know I still pack a punch, so it was an impressive result.”
HMD says that the XR20 also comes with a 48MP+13MP dual camera with ZEISS Optics, OZO spatial audio, and innovative imaging solutions. “The all-new SpeedWarp mode lets you capture a whole lot of adventure in a compact, exciting montage. Pushing the boundaries of the mid-range, it also comes with 5G speeds, 15W wireless charging, and superior durability,” the company added.
The mobile manufacturer’s two other releases, the Nokia 6310 and C30 also have new characteristics, with the C30 offering both the largest battery and biggest screen ever fitted to a Nokia device. The battery is said to last up to three days on a single charge.
The third phone, Nokia’s 6310, aims to bring advanced accessibility, optimised ergonomics, and also has a long battery life. It features a larger display and buttons, as well as zoomed-in menus.
Nokia’s audio accessories
In addition to the release of smartphones, HMD has also announced an expansion of its audio accessory range. This includes four, new distinct audio lines: Go, Micro, Comfort, and Clarity.
- Go: ultra-high value products offering the highest quality at the lowest possible prices
- Micro: meeting the demand for compact form factor
- Comfort: a result of consumers seeking optimal comfort in wearables
- Clarity: top-of-the-range quality earbuds integrating the latest tech
One of the products in the new audio range, Nokia’s Clarity Earbuds Pro, aims to give customers high-performance sound, battery life, and build quality. The powerful combination of dual-mic environment noise cancellation (ENC), Qualcomm cVc, Echo Cancelling, and Noise Suppression Technology captures and eliminates background noise for superb call and music clarity, HMD said.
Alex Lambeek, Global Head of Accessories, HMD Global, said: “Much like our smartphones, the excellence in Nokia accessories is a result of industry-leading testing for quality. The invaluable insight from our Nokia smartphone community combined with regional insights across the globe has allowed us to grow our ecosystem of companion products to an impressive portfolio.
“It’s supported by a network of strong partnerships like Binatone that allow us to provide the best for our growing fanbase. Inspired by nature and packaged in paper and soy-based ink to protect it, each new line delivers premium lifestyle experiences at accessible price points,” he added.