The deal with Celo marks the company’s first investment in the decentralised financial (DeFi) economy, with cryptocurrency seeing increasing interest around the world in recent months

Today, Deutsche Telekom has announced an investment of an undisclosed amount into the blockchain payments platform Celo. The company has also purchased an unspecified amount of Celo’s digital tokens which are used on the platform.

The move represents the operator’s first foray into the DeFi market, with the cryptocurrency allowing users to bypass traditional financial institutions when making transactions.

Launched in 2017, Celo is an open-source blockchain ecosystem focussed on making financial systems and tools accessible to anyone with a smartphone. Deutsche Telekom will reportedly be the first operator to join their growing Celo Alliance for Prosperity, a group which currently has around 130 members.

As part of the deal, Deutsche Telekom T-Systems MMS will operate as a validator utilizing the Open Telekom Cloud (OTC), thus ensuring that the financial services provided by the platform will confirm to the strict security and compliance requirements laid out by the European regulatory framework.

“We are able to secure the Celo network with our investment and our own cloud infrastructure while facilitating user onboarding and use-case development on top of the Celo network,” said Adel Al-Saleh, T-Systems’ CEO.

In the past few months, cryptocurrency has risen in prominence, with major companies like Tesla notably purchasing large sums of bitcoin. Nonetheless, it seems something of a surprise to see Deutsche Telekom partner with an alt-coin, but Andreas Dittrich, head of the blockchain solutions centre at Deutsche Telekom unit T-Systems MMS, said the move is part of Deutsche Telekom’s wider shift in attitude towards blockchain. He notes that the company has moved from a narrow focus on the HyperLedger protocol to a broader interest in blockchain solutions, noting that Celo could grow enormously in the years to come.

“We have no idea where Celo will be in five to 10 years, but I think we have a pretty good idea that this is not going away,” said Dittrich.

Deutsche Telekom is not the only telecoms company exploring blockchain’s capabilities in recent months. Earlier today, Etisalat announced the launch of UAE Trade Connect, a nationwide blockchain platform co-created by the operator and seven United Arab Emirates (UAE) banks. This platform focusses on financial security, aiming to combat invoice fraud and duplication.


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