“man showing photo of him” by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Consumer Identity — Change Is On The Way

(Note: This article was originally posted by Trusted Key CEO Amit Jasuja on his Linkedin page)

What an amazing three months it has been since I joined Trusted Key. For those who know me well, you know that I am not active on social media and rarely share the details of my life — personally or professionally. This, however, is different. I am sharing this for those of us who have a passion to make a difference and the steps we are taking to make it real.

The world of Identity is not new to me. I have been part of this space since 2000 when I joined Netegrity to lead innovation. We pioneered the SSO space which made e-commerce secure and wrote the SAML specification (we called it S2ML initially) so companies could collaborate with each other and share identify information. After Netegrity was acquired by CA, I joined Oracle and for the next 10 years, I worked there and built a strong Identity Management team with a $500 million/year business. We called it Application Centric Identity and our mission was governance of identities within enterprise applications, allowing companies to conform to regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley.

I’d never really given a lot of thought to challenges facing consumer identity, however, until I met the Trusted Key team. Amit Mital reached out to me in September 2017 because he had been working on a novel idea with Prakash Sundaresan. They were using blockchain technology to reinvent consumer identity. While most people associate blockchain with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, there are hundreds of other use cases, and I was genuinely interested in learning more about how the distributed ledger technology could improve consumer experience and security in the identity space.

Equifax had just leaked 140 million user records from a hack which is now considered one of the worst data breaches in history. It has become very clear that identity proofing is broken and what we do to acquire customers on digital channels needs to change. Do the questions “what street did you live on in 1990?” or “what car did you own in 1995?” sound familiar? With every breach, consumers are coming to the realization that the answers to questions like these are all part of public record data available to bad actors. The days when you could ask a person to come to a physical location to prove their identity using a government issued ID are quickly fading. Even if you do manage to do that, users are given a password for future account access; we all know about the insecurity of passwords.

Nearly four billion people are online with about 50 online accounts each. This makes for a very rich and growing attack surface. These are real problems and we have a huge opportunity to solve them. With Trusted Key, we can decentralize identity and return privacy and control over personal data back to the user. We can make passwords obsolete and eliminate identity fraud. But as technologists, we’ve learned that big problems don’t get solved overnight — especially when one looks at how entrenched the way we deal with consumer identity is today. Knowing this, I decided to join as an advisor to help them explore the market fit.

In November of 2017, Prakash and I attended the Gartner Identity Management Conference in Las Vegas and were blown away by the interest the attendees had for blockchain based identity. Gartner analysts stood on stage to tell the audience that that this was a trend they expected to grow in 2018 and beyond. While multiple companies shared mock videos of concepts, we showed them a real product. This was a turning point for me and I came back very excited about the opportunity in front of us. The team was perfect — some of the sharpest people I’d ever worked with — and they had built a very forward-looking product in an enormous addressable market. To put this into perspective, just one large global bank spends $100 million on Know Your Costumer (KYC) or identity proofing technology. We can save enterprises money, give consumers what they want and prevent fraud. Instantly, I knew I wanted to join the Trusted Key team and lead the next revolution in identity.

The last three months have been incredible, and the more I learn about the identity management challenge with digital customer acquisition and regulatory requirements, the more excited I get about solving these problems with our Trusted Key team. We have started pilots with customers, hired talented engineers and signed up with like-minded partners. I look forward to the next several years as we work together to change the industry by helping organizations adopt secure digital identities and build trust with consumers. We have only just begun and there are new and exciting milestones to share in the coming weeks and months. I invite you to stay tuned as we continue on this journey.