Our investment in Zamna

Remus Brett
Oct 27 · 4 min read

I must be one of the worst offenders. Three passports, two nationalities and three names, each one an interchangeable first, middle and surname (Owen Remus Brett). Sometimes I check in, sometimes my wife kindly does it for me. When it comes to entering my Advanced Passenger Information (API) before flying, that makes around 30 potential opportunities for error.

I’m not the only one. Some 50% of passengers make mistakes when entering their API, for example, a miskey in their passport number or name field.

Does it matter? Increasingly it does, as governments demand more accurate passenger data to identify national security threats and manage immigration. Through fines for bad data, governments are forcing the airlines to solve this problem on their behalf. Arguably bigger P&L hits, however, come from the operational costs of airline staff and airport real estate needed for multiple manual passenger checks.

Passenger data is just one of the myriad challenges facing the airline industry. Arguably the biggest is the expected doubling in passengers flying by 2037 (8.2 billion more people flying to be exact). Airports and immigration controls are already bursting at the seams, and the majority of passengers now say queuing for longer than 10 minutes is unacceptable — yet long haul flights demand that we arrive at the airport up to three hours in advance, in order to get us processed. Something has to give. But what?

IATA, the world’s association of airlines, announced its ONE ID initiative in 2016 with the bold vision of creating an “end-to-end passenger experience that is seamless, efficient and secure”. “The possibility to walk through the airport without breaking stride”.

Really? For all us weary travellers used to having half a dozen identity checks and insufferable delays, this sounds fanciful.

Well, with Zamna’s help, this vision might just become a reality.

Borne out of the principles of blockchain, founders Irra and Alex created Zamna to allow airlines, airports and governments to access a secure, immutable and distributed network of passenger validations. Once your advanced passenger information has been validated, Zamna’s technology can be used by any of these parties to validate your data using cryptographically sound ‘Signals’ to check you are who you say you are. As well as passport (biographic) data, the platform also works across biometric data — critical given the growth in biometric boarding.

Alex and Irra, Zamna founders

IATA agrees, awarding Zamna the only start-up with Strategic Partner status for the implementation of its ONE ID vision. Zamna has worked with IAG involving British Airways and other carriers in their work, as well as Emirates Airlines and the UAE immigration authorities.

If you’ve recently flown with one of these airlines (or other carriers in IATA who are also working with Zamna), you may already have benefitted from this technology.

Today, regardless of whether you use biographic or biometric identity checks, all of the hard work that is done by an airline, an airport or a government agency to collect passenger data is lost immediately because the data is stored in a form that is un-shareable. There is no way, until now, for any of those three to check the same identity again.

Zamna’s vision is to become the unifying network and gold-standard for security in the aviation sector and to enable IATA’s ONE ID vision — connecting government agencies, airlines and airports throughout the world.

There is no reason the technology cannot be extended to the rail and maritime industry or in fact any points of border control, or anywhere requiring individuals to assert their identity credentials.

Going one step further, imagine the power of extending Zamna’s verifications and — securely — putting them into the only hands that should hold our personal data: our own. Whilst the principles of Self Sovereign Identity (SSI) are not new, the potential of Zamna’s approach starts to make them look real.

What does Zamna look like at true scale? Like all investors, this is a question we put to Irra as part of our investment process to which she responded: “the biggest company you’ve never heard of”.

Still one of the best answers I’ve ever heard.


Sunday Times article

Techcrunch article

LocalGlobe Notes

writing from @localglobevc team

Remus Brett

Written by

Partner @localglobevc. Previously Finalta co-founder, acquired by @McKinsey.

LocalGlobe Notes

writing from @localglobevc team

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