Bharti Airtel (Airtel), India’s premier communications solutions provider, announced Thursday it has acquired a strategic stake in Aqilliz, a Singapore-based blockchain as a service company.

Airtel said in a statement that it aims to deploy Aqilliz’s advanced blockchain technologies at scale across its fast growing adtech (Airtel Ads), digital entertainment (Wynk Music and Airtel Xstream) and digital marketplace (Airtel Thanks App) offerings.

Aqilliz has developed a patented hybrid blockchain platform, Atom that integrates differential privacy and federated learning on a distributed digital ledger. This allows brands to create secure and consent-based solutions to engage with customers in a rapidly evolving digital economy that’s becoming increasingly decentralized.

“We, at Airtel, are deeply researching new technologies that drive the future of a digitally connected India. This relentless focus on innovation is also enabling us to unlock new growth engines within Airtel. Blockchain technology is maturing and we see its application across areas such as adtech, creator economy, and loyalty programs. We are thrilled to have Aqilliz join our Startup Accelerator Program and be part of Airtel’s digital innovation factory,” said Adarsh Nair, Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Digital.

Airtel Startup Accelerator Program invests in early stage start-ups working on technologies that have adjacencies to Airtel’s business offerings. The program gives startups the opportunity to deploy their technologies and applications at a massive scale, which includes 340 million+ retail customers and over 1 million+ business. In addition to funding, the program offers mentorship from Airtel’s leadership team and access to Airtel’s global strategic partners.

“We are extremely excited to be a part of Airtel’s digital innovation play and bring this first of its kind blockchain technology to India. Legacy customer engagement, ad tech and marketing technologies are built for centralized databases. The future of the digital economy is already pivoting to managing value exchanges between brands, platforms and the consumer. Aqilliz’s patented technology will enable Airtel to capture and carry this value exchange in the form of consent and provenance across the digital supply chain. We look forward to working closely with the team at Airtel,” said Gowthaman Ragothaman, Founding Chief Executive Officer of Aqilliz.

Aqilliz offers a first of its kind middleware technology that strives to enable an interoperable and collaborative digital marketing ecosystem. Its patented infrastructure, Atom, incorporates privacy-preserving techniques that help enterprises jointly perform advanced analytics on a federated layer and records such processing of activities on a distributed ledger. Such a trusted layer encourages enterprises to unify different proprietary technologies thereby helping the marketing ecosystem collectively discover sharper insights in real time, for efficient and effective activation. Rooted in the principles of ethical use of data, Aqilliz benefits brands, platforms, and consumers alike through solutions in the fields of cross-media measurement, privacy-compliant marketplaces and digital advertising supply chain automation.

Headquartered in India, Airtel is a global communications solutions provider with over 480 million customers in 16 countries across South Asia and Africa. The company ranks amongst the top three mobile operators globally and its networks cover over two billion people. It is India’s largest integrated communications solutions provider and the second largest mobile operator in Africa. Its retail portfolio includes high speed 4G/4.5G mobile broadband, Airtel Xstream Fiber that promises speeds up to 1 Gbps with convergence across linear and on-demand entertainment, streaming services spanning music and video, digital payments and financial services. For enterprise customers, it offers a gamut of solutions that includes secure connectivity, cloud and data centre services, cyber security, IoT, ad tech and cloud based communication.

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