I'm a blockchain security specialist and writer living in NY.
Identity is one of those things we all take for granted. Proving your personal identity can be complex depending on the situation and circumstance. Since King Henry V in 1414, the paper passport was the gold standard in identification. Many countries use drivers licenses or national ID cards, but these identification documents rely on photos, addresses, and a host of other “facts” to prove one’s identity. When the world moved online, the problem of authenticating people grew more complex. Without physical interaction, the use of identity cards was less practical for web-based transactions and communications. As identity becomes more digital, the technology behind cryptocurrency might hold the key to a safe and reliable way to prove an online identity is the real deal. Could the blockchain solve the problem of privacy, identity, and online trade?
There are many industries with blockchain-based startups looking to disrupt the status quo using this revolutionary technology. Identity management is no exception — there are over 20 companies in the “blockchain for identity” space right now. These firms hope to tackle a wide range of business and personal identity solution, and many are already changing the way we think about identity. Companies like VALID, UniquID, and KYC-Chain use blockchain tech and distributed ledgers to ensure safety and security for private information online.
The VALID team wants to give users control over their data while they transact online. The platform allows custom control over authentication, data safeguards, and monetization of personal information. Users will regain their sovereignty over their data and their online wallet, safe from the prying eyes of marketers and fraudsters. Approved advertising and better targeting for the marketing effort will reward users for sharing select data points with the network. There are implications for the polling and market research industries as well as advertising. Users will earn VALID tokens for their participation if desired, more importantly, the technology will allow locked-down control of personal information, too.
UniquID focuses on the IoT (internet of things) space with a secured identity platform designed to work on small and battery-powered devices. As the number of smart devices in the home grows, users need a reliable way to connect seamlessly to everything without giving up reliability or security. Using a blockchain-based platform, UniquID offers a “trustless, decentralized, Bitcoin-inspired access management solution” to help consumers and businesses secure all of their IoT devices.
KYC-Chain uses blockchain technology to solve the problem of trusting business partners online. KYC is banker-talk for “know your customer” or the obligation of financial institutions and other firms to track the identity of their clients and partners. Criminals and other nefarious types can use the banking system and money-transmitting infrastructure to move money around the world, which is why governments impose strict regulations on banks, wire companies, and other “money movers.” KYC is complex, involving many disciplines in the legal, accounting, finance, and corporate compliance communities. KYC-Chain hopes to make it easy for companies to trust each other online without relying on excessive vetting and authentication. As more of the world’s transactions move online, fixing the problem of trust is an important goal for banks, governments, businesses, and consumers alike.
It’s tempting to see blockchain as a silver bullet to solve the world’s problems, and there are many promising developments on the horizon. Since the global explosion in cryptocurrency and blockchain awareness, these blockchain entrepreneurs have the spotlight on them. Only time will tell if blockchain can deliver on all these promises, but the future looks bright for online identity solutions with so much capital, investment focus, and innovative talent in the space.
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