Filed Under: Identity

Shared ledgers might not disrupt payments, but identity

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Thanks to Marc Hochstein from American Banker for pointing me to this video of the Stanford Blockchain Workshop that he chaired in March. If you are interested in the subject of blockchains, identity and reputation then put your feet up get a cup of tea and enjoy watching some really smart people introduce a lot of really interesting concepts.

Panel: Casey Fenton (Sovolve / Couchsurfing), Patrick Deegan (ID3/OMS), Primavera De Filippi (LOVE), Muneeb Ali (Onename)

[From Stanford Blockchain Workshop (March 2015)]

These people are on to something. And they are not the only ones. A similar gathering of the great and good (how come that classification never includes me!) on Richard Branson’s island came to a similar conclusion, highlighting identity as one of their four key application areas for the blockchain.

We discussed that the identity stack is a core application for the blockchain, it’s a critical piece for further development and needed for a trusted information economy system.

[From Richard Branson’s Necker Island And The Blockchain Summit (Part 2) | Vancouvered Weblog]

Bearing in mind that I always interpret the word “the blockchain” in these circumstances to mean “some sort of shared ledger that will probably be permissioned in some way”, I think they may be right.

So our identities could be verified by reference to a series of our blockchain transactions. For privacy and security reasons, each blockchain transaction should be coded so as not to give away much information about the transaction itself.

[From The Fine Print: Of #Blockchains And #MultiFactorAuthentication]

This kind of idea deserves serious examination. The idea that I might demonstrate some attribute to a third party by demonstrating ownership of a transaction output on a blockchain is interesting, especially when combined with smart contract stuff. It’s an exciting field. There are companies like Shocard and OneName already active in the space and new ones coming along all the time. For many of our financial services clients, radical reduction in the costs of identity-related compliance are a much higher priority than some marginal reductions in transaction costs.

I think we can begin to speculate about the use of a permissioned ledger to hold KYC information and the merging of auditing and compliance to replace AML “gates” with permanent monitoring of transactions on a blockchain (more on this tomorrow), the restoration of financial services in accordance with the FATF risk-based approach on a per-transaction basis. This would really be a new world, and would be really a revolutionary use of shared ledger technology.

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