Bubbletone Blockchain has generated a lot of buzz in the ICO world. In the age of globalization and heightened cross-border travel, the promise of global telecom without intermediaries is quickly gaining traction. Imagine traveling anywhere in the world and being able to use your mobile device seamlessly without changing your SIM card or paying huge network penalties.
Bubbletone markets itself as the first decentralized telecom ecosystem connecting operators, service providers and consumers. The company has identified a massive end market for its product, including: 1,000 operators, 10,000 online service providers and 1.3 billion travelers annually. (In reality, Bubbletone is not the first project building decentralized telecom; we conducted an ICO review of TripAlly several months ago, and it too is seeking to rid the world of international data roaming bottlenecks).
The platform works by allowing mobile carriers to publish offers via smart contracts, which are then made available to operators and consumers. When an offer is selected, a smart contract is created through the subscriber’s Digital Identity. This is where payment occurs, and when services under the local telecom provider is implemented. Under this business model, it is clear that Bubbletone is targeting operators as well as consumers (this fact is further spelled out in the whitepaper). Even by attracting a small fraction of cross-border travelers to its platform, Bubbletone can offer a strong value proposition to operators and service providers looking for transient business.
Bubbletone is issuing a utility cryptocurrency by the name of Universal Mobile Token (UMT), which is built on top of the Graphene blockchain. The departure from the more common ERC-20 protocol gives UMT a unique advantage from the perspective of transaction speed. Through its native BitShares application, Graphene is capable of producing three-second transactions with the possibility of scaling up to 100,000 transactions per second. In the case of Bubbletone, developers have promised 10,000 transactions per second (although only half will be necessary initially).
UMT tokens act as a payment method on the Bubbletone platform, allowing users to pay for telecom services that include voice calls and instant messages. Tokens can be purchased using traditional fiat money or at least half a dozen cryptocurrencies.
The company initiated the pre-sale of UMT tokens on Jan. 20 and will keep the early bird window open through Feb. 15. During this period, one token is valued at $0.42 U.S., although a minimum investment of $10,000 is required.
The public ICO begins Mar. 20, and will run for two months. The initial token price is set at $0.50 U.S. and will rise in 5 cent increments every five days until it reaches $1.
Without mincing words, the Bubbletone team is stacked from top to bottom. Telecom experience, blockchain expertise and startup success are all represented on a team that is 25-people deep. The project also retains the services of 13 advisers including crowdfunding legal experts, blockchain entrepreneurs and even the co-founders of ICOBox.
When it comes to blockchain-in-telecom, Bubbletone could very well be the most promising project yet. Backed by a solid team and strong business model, Bubbletone could make plenty of headway in evolving global telecom out of the data roaming trap.
That being said, there are some important risks to bear in mind with a project of this nature. In the author’s view, the biggest question is whether traditional telecom is already being eroded by mobile voice and data messengers connected to the internet.
- The whitepaper identifies competition from “roaming hubs,” which act as intermediaries between mobile operators, as well as Project Fi (Google) and Apple SIM. However, it does not consider other blockchain-based telecom providers, such as TripAlly, Mobilink and others. Although TripAlly’s token raise wasn’t very impressive (less than 1,250 ETH collected), the market for blockchain-based telecom is becoming more crowded. -1
- Although Bubbletone is addressing a real need in the market, the author believes there are many alternatives to resolving telecom bottlenecks. All of these alternatives are based on internet connectivity. Billions of people already employ some form of internet-based communications, be it Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Skype or Telegram. Wherever you travel, a simple internet connection is all you need to communicate as you normally would in your home network (the growing prevalence of Wi-Fi connections makes this even easier). The only real limits appear to be jurisdictions with weak broadband penetration (i.e., rural and emerging markets) and landlines. The whitepaper did flag emerging markets as a major source of the telecom frustration, so this could be a good start. Otherwise, I’ve never had to worry about my SIM card when travelling. If I’m with friends or family, I log on to their internet. If I’m at a hotel or restaurant, I use their Wi-Fi. There are plenty of cases where these options aren’t available, but that doesn’t diminish the growing trend toward internet-based communications. -2
- Although Bubbletone is concentrating its efforts on small- and medium-sized mobile operators, it has not listed any of its partners or service agreements. This raises question marks about the project’s implementation and how quickly it will be able to scale up to meet its global vision. There doesn’t seem to be any aversion to name dropping partners, as the whitepaper already lists its partnership with Lingualeo, an English-learning service, as well as the Crypto Valley Association. -2
- The whitepaper doesn’t present a clear business model. In fact, less than a page is devoted to the subject, and instead of talking about how the platform will make money or expand, it merely mentions anticipated growth of blockchain-based mobile providers. -2
- Bubbletone is entering the market at an exciting time for the telecom industry, as mobile communications have successfully penetrated both advanced and emerging economies. With billions of people traveling the globe annually, the need for seamless cross-border communication is growing. +2
- Although we remain concerned about telecom disruption through internet-based services, Bubbletone does offer clear use cases from the perspective of both consumers and operators. For consumers, calls, data and messenger services are available at affordable local rates without the need to change SIM cards. Meanwhile, operators receive the benefit of greater global network integration and access to potentially millions (billions!) of consumers. +3
- The Bubbletone project boasts one of the most advanced blockchains available for the telecom industry. As outlined in the whitepaper, the Graphene platform offers many unique benefits, including secure data storage, low transaction errors and faster network speeds due to less traffic transmitted among existing operators. Although these benefits are inherent to blockchain technology more generally, Graphene is a step above due its rapid transaction processing speed. +3
- On a practical note, the project already has an operational platform, including a beta version of messenger app available through Google Play and Apple Store. The app has more than 100 functions, which should give investors tangible evidence that the ship is moving. +2
- The team certainly inspires a lot of confidence. Founder Yuri Morozov has already created four telecom companies that generate a combined $50 million in revenue annually. +3
Bubbletone is a highly ambitious project that seeks to transform the inter-operator telecom market. If successful, it will have a profound impact on how consumers and operators interact with one another. Factoring the risks and opportunities, we arrive at a score of 6 out 10.
- Token Type: Utility
- Platform: Graphene
- Symbol: UMT
- Pre-sale: Ongoing
- Token Sale: Mar. 20 – May 20, 2018
- Tokens Available for Sale: 500 million
- Price: 1 UMT = $0.50 USD
- Payments Accepted: Crypto (BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, DASH, USDT), fiat currency
- Jurisdictions Barred from Participating: None identified.