In an age of technology, the question “Who am I?” becomes even more important. Why? Because technology, unlike anything else, has given identity thieves the tools they need to impersonate unsuspecting peers. According to reports, in 2014, 17.6 million Americans had their identity stolen in some way or another. The Equifax hack earlier this year has made identity theft even more real for actual and potential victims alike.
The unfortunate thing is that there is largely nothing the public can do to protect themselves. Other than strict monitoring of credit reports, personal I.D.s, and bank accounts, people are completely unable to protect their own data in a very true sense–this is because they don’t own it.
The Equifax hack taught this in a major way. To be sure, some irresponsible people simply have it coming. But of the almost 150 million people that were affected, not all were irresponsible. Surely many were responsible, keeping up to date with credit monitoring reports and bank statements. The data breach was not the fault of the victims who had their data stolen–the blame rests with the centralized authority, in this case Equifax, that let it happen.
So what is the solution? Many believe that blockchain technology has an adequate answer. Some companies, like SelfKey for example, are using blockchain technology on their proprietary platforms that allows end users to control their identity management process.
How Blockchain Makes a Difference
These platforms are one hundred percent digital, meaning that paper-based documents and filing systems will be done away with. SelfKey provides privacy, security, and above all, individual rights to platform users. Users truly will be at the center of their identity management, a perfect example of the Self-Sovereign Identity (SSID) concept.
To use the platform, users must download a wallet app on a personal device. The wallet, when created, is blank, and must have personal identity information loaded onto it. The data is stored locally on the device, while backups can be made to another device or via a personal backup solution.
The first thing a user will store on the platform is a public / private key pair, termed a SelfKey. This will become the digital signature when filling out applications. The private key is known only to the owner, and whenever the digital signature is applied, it authenticates the owner’s identity to requesting parties.
Thus the key pair serves as a sort of two factor verification system. The public key is known to all; the private key is only known to the owner and can only be used by the owner. In this sense, it is much harder to “forge” a signature. Without using the SelfKey, no one else would know it existed. This is the meaning of sovereign identity–end users have complete control over who accesses their personal identity data.
When transactions are processed or when applications are filled out SelfKey provides a way for relevant authorities to verify a user’s claims. However, the claims only mandate that users share the minimal amount of information necessary–the identity owner can share only what is necessary for the requestor to know.
The contrast between current setups is striking–in the traditional, current system, data miners like Google, Facebook, and Apple can dig through personal data to gather information on likes, dislikes, and life tendencies. With SelfKey, users have their data in their control. No longer will individuals feel threatened by large corporations that bury data identity information in the bottom of a long legal disclosure.
Additionally, users will have access to their own data. This is a logical outflow of the platform–since end users create the accounts, they will have access to all the data on their account. The network will not allow hidden data to exist for a user, and nor will it allow other parties to intrude on the data of a user who has not consciously disclosed it.
What Can These Systems Offer Users?
The SelfKey platform appears to offer some extremely helpful services: instant access to a cryptocurrency wallet, streamlined set up to multiple bitcoin exchange accounts, and money transfer between 180 countries. There are more complex services potentially available such as setting up a company or llc, buying international health coverage, or applying for a passport.
Through and through, these platforms give users the opportunity to take their own life into their own hands. Rather than let big data and privacy regulations run the show, people can get their lives back in their own power with companies like SelfKey.
The amount of money in a person’s wallet should not be a barrier to his ability to access financial products that the rich enjoy. HelloGold wants to remove affordability and accessibility from the equation through the democratisation and digitisation of gold-based savings and financing.
HelloGold is a gold-backed platform that aims to help the unbanked around the world. Robin Lee, CEO, reflects on the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis when people’s salaries issued in local currency were halved overnight. Stable assets such as gold are a potential answer, but then there are issues of logistics and fungibility of a weight physical asset. This is where the Gold-Backed Token (GBT) backed on an immutable ledger comes in. Lee summarizes the utility of tokenizing their gold saving platform, “In short, everyone can save, and everyone can have access to affordable financing. Democratization through digitization.”
Viberate is described as “your chance to enter into the booming live music industry.” The team aims to develop a thriving blockchain ecosystem for musicians and event managers by creating a social media and
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investFeed is a New York based “community powered social trading network” making the switch from US equities to cryptocurrency. Marketing itself as the “world’s first social investment network for the cryptocurrency community”, investFeed aims to develop cryptocurrency infrastructure for the industry. This is establishing a much-needed framework ready for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency.