As we approach the thirtieth anniversary of the World Wide Web, we should definitely take the time to look back in awe at the amazing economic transformation the web has delivered. Yet, in this context, digital identity remains a serious concern. In fact, you could argue there is no such thing as a digital identity, certainly for the vast majority of users. All we have are hundreds of username/password combinations that allow us to access various services. How real-world identity maps to the digital world is still the subject of much debate. In this blog post, we outline our thoughts on digital identity and introduce the Kriptan Network, a global identity verification network.
When it comes to problems with identity, the recent manipulation of public opinion using fake accounts on social media are just the tip of the iceberg. The real crisis is that the astronomical costs of verifying identities is holding back the new wave of digital innovation. We have seen how a combination of cloud computing, open-source software on-demand office space etc. has unleashed a wave of digital innovation. As the cost of setting up a new businesses was reduced, more ideas become economically viable. A widely accepted identity solution would remove many barriers to innovation in many areas, including fintech, travel, healthcare and education.
Web 3.0, also known as the Internet Of Value, could be the catalyst we need to help corporations, governments and citizens get together to solve the digital identity issue. Web 1.0 allowed information to flow across the globe. Web 2.0 created social connections on a global scale. Web 3.0 is about exchanging value. In Web 3.0, the value I create can be turned into a liquid asset much earlier in the cycle. Sweetbridge have called these liquid value networks. This is a profound change, as it opens up a financially viable model to build a shared infrastructure, owned by and run on behalf of the community. The team that initiates the project and does the hard work of creating the ecosystem around it, can get financially rewarded for their efforts. The community can be incentivised to maintain and evolve the project. In the context of identity, this shared resource model solves a major problem. As no government, corporation or transnational body owns the network, we can get everyone to adopt it. It can truly deliver a global commons, available for everyone to use, with no risk that it can be subverted by any one party for their own gain.
One key question, yet to be resolved, focuses on how this global commons should work. Some have advocated for a web-of-trust identity model, where an individual can seed their own digital identity and get others who know them to vouch for them. This is a very powerful idea and is one we fully support. Our only concern relates to how long it will take to build up the credentials for billions of people and how soon it can be accepted as valid by businesses around the world. This concept can be extended with attestations from other organisations: governments can confirm your passport or driving license, universities can vouch for your academic credentials or employers can confirm your work history.
The Kriptan Network approach is based around the understanding that identity is such a critical piece of infrastructure for Web 3.0, that it needs to be rapidly deployed. We think the fastest way to get to a universally accepted identity is to get governments and corporations to rally behind this cause. It’s clearly in everyone’s interest to do so, as a widely accepted digital identity can accelerate growth in the global economy, create jobs, deliver a fairer economic model, restore trust in institutions and protect democratic systems.
The Kriptan Network puts the citizen back in control of their data. Through a mobile app, they can control who can verify their identity. They can revoke access at any time. They can gain financially every time their identity is verified.
We believe that the fastest way to scale an identity verification network to cover billions of citizens across the globe, is to start with the identity providers that businesses will feel most comfortable trusting. When a business (a “relying party”) needs to verify your name or age, they would feel reassured if they could get that information from the passport office or a driving license authority. When they need to confirm your address, they would perceive your utility provider as being the most reliable source. When they need to confirm you are an accredited investor or confirm your income is above a certain level they would prefer to get this information straight from your bank or investment manager. These are what we refer to as authoritative sources and they provide the high-assurance identity verification capabilities that relying parties require.
We also believe that businesses will want the latest, high-assurance information. They want to confirm the data they are validating is correct at the time of validation e.g. if a passport is out of date or revoked, if salary payments are no longer being lodged at the bank or if you have moved house. This requires the ability to query this information in real-time.
The goal is to ensure we don’t end up with silos of personal data stored across thousands of corporations. The only people that need to store a person’s data are the individuals themselves and the identity providers (governments, banks, utilities, telecoms providers etc.), who only store the minimum data set that is relevant to them. Everyone else in the system is relieved of the burden of storing and securing personal data, as they can now rely on the Kriptan Network.