Closing the Door on Fraud Calls

Tobila Systems, Inc. IP

Website: Tobila Systems, Inc.External site: a new window will open.
Category: Others

Tobila Systems filters out phone-based crime

Fraudulent phone calls – particularly to elderly people from criminals who are pretending to have legitimate business offerings – are an all-too-common problem in the US and Japan. Tobila Systems’ Tobila Phone call-filtering system uses an innovative approach and a comprehensive database to help protect these would-be victims.

Tobila Phone

Founder and CEO Atsushi Akita holds a Tobila Phone unit

Tobila Systems’ Founder and CEO Atsushi Akita chose his firm’s name (tobila is Japanese for “door”) because of a door’s ability to let things in or keep them out, and he developed his call filtering system after his own grandfather fell victim to phone fraud. He wanted to sign his grandfather up for a fraud call blocking service. Unable to find a phone service that worked the same way as an email spam filter, he decided to build one himself.

A Database for Phone Safety

Tobila Phone connects to the Internet and a landline phone. It monitors incoming calls and checks them against Tobila’s database. If a call comes from a number that can be found in the database of spam or fraud callers, a red light appears at the bottom of the box. The user can then press the “reject” button and the call is blocked; numbers can be added to a customer’s personal list of blocked numbers.

The database is what distinguishes Tobila Phone from any other system. It is generated from several different sources: end user reports, in-house surveys, and number lists from police departments around the country. The cloud database is constantly being updated in real time, becoming more refined and accurate the more it is used.

This combination of real-time updating, a nearly 100 percent accuracy rate, and the trust of the authorities has given Tobila a 90 percent share in the call monitoring market within just five years. The company holds patents for incoming call management systems, and has applied for patents related to its database management methods.

Opening the Door to the Overseas Market

Tobila counts NTT, KDDI, and SoftBank among its major partners. There are versions of Tobila Phone for IP phones, and in August 2015, the manufacturer Sharp started selling a phone with a built-in Tobila unit. Thanks to their strong intellectual property rights and comprehensive database, any phone provider who wants to offer similar services will need to partner with Tobila or will need to go it on their own.

The company has its sights set on overseas partners. In 2014, the software security giant McAfee partnered with Tobila to make a call-filtering application for smartphones in the Japanese market. They have an office in Silicon Valley, and they’re looking to develop partnerships with major providers in the United States, a market where landlines still outnumber mobile phones. In the next several years, Akita hopes that the company would be able to develop a telephone for the US that has the Tobila unit built in.

Despite the product’s strength in the market, Akita is moved by the human element of Tobila Phone’s service: “Before, there were many people who were worried about fraud calls, and they bought our systems, and now they have peace of mind. We hear this positive feedback, and it’s one of the things we are proudest of.”

We are proud of positive feedback from people,” says Akita.

Based on interview in December 2015