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Airtel Acquires Strategic Stake In Blockchain Tech Startup Aqilliz

Airtel Acquires Strategic Stake In Blockchain Tech Startup Aqilliz

Aqilliz’s patented technology would enable Airtel to capture and carry value exchange in the form of consent and provenance across the digital supply chain, said its founder

Before this, Airtel had invested in AI-startup Voicezen, cloud telephony startup Waybeo, edtech startup Lattu Kids, under its accelerator programme

Founded in 2019 by Gowthaman Ragothaman, Aqilliz has developed a patented hybrid blockchain platform ‘Atom’

Telecom major Bharti Airtel has acquired a strategic stake in Singapore-based Aqilliz, a Blockchain technology startup under the Airtel Startup Accelerator Programme.

Airtel 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.

The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

“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,” said Adarsh Nair, CEO, Airtel Digital.

Founded in 2019 by Gowthaman Ragothaman, Aqilliz has developed a patented hybrid blockchain platform Atom, which integrates differential privacy and federated learning on a distributed digital ledger, said the startup. This allows brands to create secured and consent-based solutions to engage with customers in a rapidly evolving digital economy.

 “Legacy customer engagement, ad tech and marketing technologies are built for centralised databases. The future of the digital economy is already pivoting to managing value exchanges between brands, platforms, and consumers,” said Gowthaman Ragothaman, founder and CEO, Aqilliz.

Bharti Airtel had rolled out its startup accelerator programme in 2019 to support early-stage Indian tech startups. Airtel had later announced that Bengaluru-based tech startup Vahan was the first to join its startup accelerator programme. The telecom company had bought an 8.8% stake in the tech startup then.

The programme offers startups an opportunity to deploy their technologies and applications at a massive scale, which includes more than 340 Mn retail customers and more than 1 Mn business. Besides funding, the programme offers mentorship from its leadership team and access to Airtel’s global strategic partners.

Last year in December, the telecom company had launched the ‘Airtel India Startup Innovation Challenge’ with Invest India. Early-stage startups were invited to demonstrate solutions for 5G, IoT, cloud communications, digital advertising and digital entertainment.

Under this initiative, top 10 winners will win cash prizes, get access to Airtel’s Innovation Lab and will be able to leverage Airtel’s advanced technology infrastructure to scale up their use cases and even co-innovate with Airtel’s engineering teams.

Meanwhile, the telecom giant had invested in various startups such as conversation AI-startup Voicezen, cloud telephony startup Waybeo, edtech startup Lattu Kids, under its accelerator programme.

In May 2020, Airtel Startup Accelerator programme had invested an undisclosed amount of funding in Voicezen for a 10% stake.   

Further, Airtel had acquired a 10% stake in Lattu Kids for an undisclosed amount in June 2020. Before this, it invested in fitness-focused startup Spectacom, and jobs marketplace Vahan.ai.

In September 2020, Airtel had picked up a strategic stake in Thiruvananthapuram-based cloud telephony startup Waybeo in order to scale up its cloud offerings