How we think about your identity at Cove and how we want to help you keep control of it

Ever notice that everything that is important about who you are leaves some sort of paper trail? Think about it, complete this phrase as many times as you can: “I am a …”

There are some obvious ones that apply to most people:

I am a driver — driving license
I was born in my country — Birth certificate
I am a citizen of my country — passport
I am a homeowner — Mortgage papers etc
Or, I am a renter — Rental agreement

Then there’s the less obvious identity indicators or the ones that are unique to certain people:

I am a doctor — PhD certificate
I am a songwriter — lyrics / record contract
I am a business owner — Incorporation documents
I am a cancer survivor — medical records
I am a model — Portfolio pictures
I am a paraglider — flight logbook

There are an endless array of possibilities here.

This is how we think of identity at Cove. Your identity is everything that is uniquely important to you and we want to help you manage, control and protect it but also make it work for you.

To do this, Cove focused on 4 key processes to ensure you have full control of your personal identity: Scan & Organise, Secure, Verify, Share & Validate. I’ll explain each one in a bit more detail:

Scan & Organise

As I was describing above, a lot of what makes you you, comes with a long paper trail (how about that for the world’s least inspiring inspirational quote) and if you’re like me, those papers are all over the show. My birth certificate I hope is at my Mom’s house 10,000 miles away. I have no idea where my rental agreement is. I keep some copies though, I travel a lot so I keep a scanned copy of my passport on Google Drive, unencrypted(I know right).

So the first thing Cove does is make it as easy as possible for you to scan, digitize and organise all the documents that are important to you and your identity. You simply point your phone camera over the document and it’s automatically scanned. Our auto-crop and straighten feature makes it look nice, there’s even some (not nearly as cool as Instagram’s) filters to help make the document more readable. Then the OCR / text recognition kicks in and reads all the words in your document and digitizes them. This is a really important step as it helps tag and organise your documents but it also helps make them searchable later: Booking a flight, need your passport details, just search them!

Secure

If you’re going to put all your most important documents into one place, our secure wallet, you’ve got to be sure you can trust that your data is as secure it can be. Our secure wallet is pretty much unbreakable, it uses synchronous and asynchronous encryption, to ensure end-to-end encryption of your data. So it’s practically impossible for anyone to break into the secure wallet.

Security is also about ensuring that you have full control of the privacy of your data. Your secure wallet is stored on your phone, so only you have access to it through a 6-digit pin code or your finger print. If you decide to back up your secure wallet, it’s backed up with the same near-unbreakable encryption to your cloud service. So even if anyone found it there, they can poke at it all they want, they’re not going to be able to get into it. This means nobody can see your data. Not us, not any hackers not any government. Only you choose who gets to see it.

So these are the feature sets we’re focussing on first. If we can create something that is as easy to use as Google Drive or Dropbox but is private, decentralised and more secure, users will flock to use it. This is why we say we have a solution to a user need that exists right now.

Verify

So you’ve got a bunch of your most important documents squirreled away in your secure wallet and you’re feeling pretty smug and organised. These documents are pretty handy though, quite often companies need to see a copy of them so wouldn’t it be awesome if you could bring these important documents to life and make them start working a little harder for you? The key is to get them verified. Imagine how easy it would be to apply for a mortgage or sign up for a car sharing club (I’ve just signed up for two and verification was a real pain) by pinging the organisation already-verified documents that they trust are verified, straight from your phone.

We’ve got a plan for a multi-faceted, robust verification system that generates a verification score on each of your documents. Verifications can be done by professionals, organisations or through crowsourcing / peer 2 peer, which will become valuable in due course. The plan is quite involved and there’s a lot to explain so it’s deserved of it’s own blog post that will be coming soon. And of course, it will all take place on the Blockchain so it’s immutable and all that.

Share & validate

So you’ve got a secure wallet full of your verified important documents, that people or organisations will need to see occasionally: the HR department at your new job, a friend booking a flight for you, signing up for a web service, getting into a club and so on. We’re working on a multitude of ways to easily and securely share your information, encrypted, for whatever reason you have to share it . Even when you share information out, you will be able to maintain control of it and retract it or contain it where necessary.

This is the path we are taking towards the solution for end-to-end control of your personal identity. We think it’s a game changer as nothing else out there is this thorough and this complete. Of course we will keep adding in new relevant ideas as they surface, so if you like what we’re up to here and have some ideas that you think could add to the experience, do let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

We’ve announced our ICO, you can get all the details here