Truecaller API lets third parties tap into database of 600M phone numbers

Written on:May 22, 2013
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Remember Truecaller, the Swedish phone directory service we reported on earlier this year? It’s a service for combatting phone scams – the user gets to see who’s calling them, with Truecaller identifying the caller by their phone number. It’s big in India, apparently.

Anyway, Truecaller now has 600 million partly crowdsourced names and phone numbers in its database, which is quite a lot, and it’s decided to open up this information to third parties that can make good use of it. “Great,” you might think, “what a boon to telemarketers.” But no, Truecaller is rather sensibly hand-picking those developers who get to tap into its newly-launched, 3scale-managed API, and telemarketers are not welcome at all.

As for potential uses for this reverse lookup service, that’s up to the developer’s imagination. Here’s what Truecaller CEO Alan Mamedi suggests:

“Among many other scenarios, the Truecaller API could be used to save time in call centres. Each call centre minute is connected to a cost. By using our API, both local and global, call centres can identify who is calling even before starting the call. Win-win.”

Truecaller’s database is populated by two main sources: traditional phone directory services and users who are willing to upload their address books. This latter source means it can contain numbers that are unlisted, including pay-as-you-go phone numbers. Numbers in the database come with two types of scores: a “spam score” to rate how likely it is that they are associated with telesales or robocalls, and a “true score” to denote importance.

Importantly, name search will not be a function associated with the API – it will only be available on the mobile app, meaning the API can only be used for reverse lookup purposes.

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