This pandemic has sent our country into a rapid economic downturn with massive job losses and millions of people seeking ways to cut costs. It’s a perfect storm on many fronts leaving consumers mainly focused on indispensable items should as food, shelter and yes communication devices such as mobiles and tablets. These devices have become the ultimate form of communication during this pandemic for news and updates and in many cases the only way family members can communicate with their loved ones. Interestingly PCS Wireless was ahead of itself when a few years ago it invested in the creation of a mobile device ecosystem similar to Carfax called IGWT Block. I recently interviewed its president Flavio Mansi on his vision for this market.
Robert Reiss: Explain your vision to lower mobile phone costs?
Flavio Mansi: Coming from a leading company in the secondary mobile phone business, we recognize the inefficiencies and lack of transparency that plague the industry. Innumerable intermediaries represent touch points throughout the supply chain, adding cost, time and minimal value. In fact, the average delta in value a seller receives compared to the price a buyer pays is currently 50% because of all these intermediaries. In addition, mobile phone grading scales are subjective, non-standardized and inconsistent, at best.
IGWT Block is launching a blockchain platform called TessaB that will enable every buyer and seller to access detailed data about the devices they are trading, which will drastically reduce the number of intermediaries, and ultimately enable peer-to-peer transactions. Our platform will shed light on the condition of the device, enabling more transparent and secure transactions that save consumers a lot of money.
Reiss: How do you plan to encourage consumers to buy second-hand phones?
Mansi: Our research has found that the main objection consumers have about purchasing pre-owned mobile phones is lack of trust. “How do I know what I am getting,” “What happens if I get a lemon,” “How can I trust what the seller is telling me?” This is similar to how consumers behave when purchasing a used car. By introducing a “Carfax-type” solution, we are leveraging technology that will directly address consumers’ concerns. They will know detailed information about the condition of the mobile device they are purchasing by leveraging the security and immutability of blockchain based smart contracts. Funds paid for a mobile device will not be disbursed to the seller until the buyer receives the device and runs the same diagnostics tests the seller ran. So the transaction is complete only when results of the buyer and seller match.
Reiss: Why would PCS Wireless create IGWT Block, which actually competes with its core business?
Mansi: PCS Wireless was very bold in recognizing that such an inefficient industry is simply not sustainable. Rather than take a back seat and await inevitable developments to arise, the decision was made to innovate and lead the disruption within the industry by investing in a new solution. Rather than competing in PCS’s core business, our goal at IGWT is to reinvent the industry as a whole. Research firm IDC projects the industry to be worth $67 billion globally by 2023.
Reiss: Are you doing anything to help with communication challenges during this pandemic?
Mansi: We clearly recognize the increased need for people to stay connected. Not only during this terrible pandemic, but throughout the economic impact it will have for time to come. We strongly believe that enabling efficient transactions of mobile devices amongst consumers will lower the barrier to staying connected. Specifically in times of sorrow like these, we are backing our parent company’s partnerships supporting frontline hospital staff, patients, and seniors. This includes our partnership with NJII to connect PCS Wireless to the right people at New Jersey hospitals. We have also teamed up with Covid Tech Connect to service the national network of hospitals. In addition, the Covid Tech Connect initiative is leveraging our global supply chain to source items overseas to connect those in need with loved ones, both locally and overseas.
Reiss: How do you see the transformation of the mobile supply chain working on a blockchain?
Mansi: Bringing transparency to the supply chain will make it much more efficient. Currently an average of 7 intermediaries touch a pre-owned mobile phone from its original owner to its new ultimate owner. These intermediaries are often located around the globe, so the mobile device at issue travels the world during this highly inefficient journey.
By providing access to a shared database, our blockchain platform will enable localized transactions. Think of it as decentralized inventories. If a seller in Oklahoma City wants to sell its iPhone 8 and there is a buyer 6 miles away, why do we need to transport that iPhone 8 from the Verizon store in Oklahoma City where the seller drops it, to Verizon’s triage warehouse in Dallas, to a wholesale buyer in New Jersey, to a wholesale seller in Hong Kong, to an etailer in Maryland, where the buyer purchases it and is shipped to Oklahoma City? Sounds insane because IT IS! Watch how the TessaB ecosystem will work.
Reiss: Is IGWT currently selling these mobile phones today?
Mansi: As part of our strategy we developed a “proof of concept” business in parallel to the build out of our blockchain platform. To that effect we launched our e-commerce site, Glyde.com, where, today, consumers can purchase Premium Pre-Owned phones, accidental damage protection plans under our TessaB Protect brand, and accept phone trade-ins for cash or credit. Over the next 18 months we will be rolling out more TessaB powered offerings powered by the Blockchain, so stay tuned!
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About the Interviewer: I believe the great CEOs understand both business success and personal success. My higher purpose is to disseminate CEO wisdom to help elevate business, the economy and society. My platforms are: host of the nationally syndicated Am/Fm radio show The CEO Show with Robert Reiss. I co-authored, “The Transformative CEO,” and one of my passions is sharing insights by giving keynote speeches on the topic, “What we can learn from America’s top CEOs.”