Our next three blog posts will examine blockchain and cryptocurrencies and CounterPath's take on this new wave.
Looking back, 2017 was a momentous year for CounterPath. We successfully introduced a subscription model for users of our clients, provided hosted provisioning for thousands of customers and companies, and enabled group services such as screen-sharing, messaging and conferencing.
We continued to offer standards-based encryption to secure audio, video and messaging to those for whom absolute privacy is important. Our third-party integration with Salesforce, Outlook and other platforms increased, along with new devices added to the compatible portfolio. We provided a new push service to enable our mobile clients to remain able to receive calls, even while the client was forced to sleep by iOS and Android rules. This significantly decreased battery usage, which has been warmly received.
We also launched a distributor and reseller portal to enable our larger scale VARs to make best use of the products we offer and licensing opportunities.
This success has been independently recognized by awards and accolades – a testament to the quality and dedication of our employees.
Amongst all this, we have also been researching how to satisfy a common request from customers and our distributors, and this has led us to consider the use of blockchain and a cryptocurrency. This post will introduce how blockchain and cryptocurrency may apply and fit in our ecosystem.
A little background…
VoIP clients such as Bria and X-Lite use the SIP protocol for signalling communication and a variety of other protocols for the audio/video and messaging. Part of the challenge of using SIP has always been setting up the clients (all those SIP parameters and credentials) and subsequently only paying for features used and ensuring security and authentication. SIP authentication is based on MD5 hashing of certain parts of the message, and it’s well known that MD5 is now insecure. But, it’s a standard part of the protocol, so we cannot easily change it.
Once authenticated, you rely on the server to grant access to services based on your profile at the server. A significant level of trust is required by the client, not just in the authentication process, but also the retention and application of your details relating to services to which you are subscribed. If you subscribe to multiple services and providers (e.g for screen share, conferencing, video, messaging) this is further complicated and fragmented.
On the finance side, retail customers have requested migration to a monthly subscription cost, as this is easier on their cashflow, and specifically for corporate customers, a monthly cost can be viewed as an operational expense, rather than an asset purchase – for financial controllers, this is often a better solution.
Internally at CounterPath, as we scaled up our VAR portal and customer base, we also received requests to be able to assign costs for service usage based on patterns we hadn’t considered before. Some VARs want to be able to charge based on duration of use, participant numbers involved, even time of day and day of the week, as that affects the elasticity and underlying costs of the cloud server farms used to provide the services. They also wanted a more secure method of identifying their customers, once only, and to be able to provide services across multiple platforms based on that one-time authentication. At the same time, CounterPath also requires an auditable trail of transactions for those customers, so we can invoice each party correctly. Were we to introduce micro billing, this could become unmanageable. Whilst we have the right to audit our resellers, it’s an overhead we would rather do without.
These requirements: assured authentication, authorization and auditable micro billing, together with smart contracts, lead to a clean and effective solution, namely, blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
Stay tuned to the next blog in our blockchain series!
In the meantime, visit our website to learn more about CounterPath: