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Identifying the consumers of tomorrow

Thu Dec 06 07:00:00 EST 2018

There’s no doubt the technology of the future will look vastly different to the technology of today. But ‘future’ doesn’t mean 10 or even 20 years down the line. Within the next four years we could be charging our phones once a month, wearing activity-tracking smart clothes and even ditching paper IDs for the digital equivalent.

By 2022 it’s predicted that 40% of interactions between businesses and their customers will be affected by a form of digital ID known as self-sovereign identity (SSI). Self-sovereign identity is the concept of securely storing information about your digital identity, totally under your control, so that you can share verifiable proof of who you are, for life. It could replace usernames and passwords, and even form-filling, forever.

Self-sovereign identity has the potential to play a significant role in making the lives of consumers much easier in the near future – and not just for the millions of us who struggle with usernames and passwords every day. With this in mind, the Barclaycard Payment Solutions (BPS) Innovation team, led by Ed Black, recently partnered with SSI first movers, Evernym, in their 12-month Accelerator programme. Through the Accelerator programme BPS is able to focus its efforts on developing a commercial proposition in a safe test environment and further explore the customer, business, legal and technical benefits of SSI.

Evernym and Sovrin

Founded in 2013, Evernym conceived Sovrin, a body set up exclusively to develop, build and promote self-sovereign identity. The Sovrin Protocol creates a unique, digital identifier that can be used to verify proof of identity anywhere and at any time. Building SSI on a blockchain foundation means this new technology is extremely secure. And even more compelling, Sovrin has the potential to become a global, decentralized public body: available to everyone, owned by no one, and the software free to access.

As an example of what SSI can do, take autofill on your phone. You’re trying to pay for something but the details in the autofill tool are incorrect or need updating. By using your unique Sovrin identifier, you can share verified details and more – your card number, date of birth, passport number, address etc. – and automatically input those into the form. It’s a single-click system, totally under your control, which can significantly speed up customer transaction times and make life far easier and more convenient when buying online. Whether you are paying for a flight or opening a bank account, Sovrin helps you prove who you are by sharing verifiable data from trusted 3rd parties (like a bank or government) who can vouch for your identity.

Collaboration for identification

Evernym leverages Sovrin to develop tools and products that make it easier for businesses to integrate SSI capabilities into their own systems. Ultimately, Sovrin could reduce cybercrime and fraud and simplify identity challenges on a major scale. Looked at in this way. it’s easy to see how, together, Barclaycard Payment Solutions and Evernym can help create more secure futures for customers around the world.

Simplicity and privacy

Jamie Smith, Strategic Engagement Director at Evernym, believes that self-sovereign identity will in future revolutionise the way individuals prove who they are. “Everyone has multiple usernames and passwords – and some people use the same password for everything. Hackers love that. And it’s not just your email account they can take – once they’ve got your passwords, they can steal your whole identity,” says Jamie. With self-sovereign identity, those hackable usernames and passwords are things of the past. With SSI I can prove anything about myself, to anyone, at any time, and organisations can do the same.”

When it comes to GDPR and privacy regulations, SSI also offers a solution. Traditionally, if a business needed to verify that a customer was over 21, not only would they need to ask for their full date of birth, but they’d then need to store that data for future use. This could then become an easy target for fraudsters. With SSI, all a business would need is a simple “yes” or “no” from the customer confirming they’re over 21 and then verify that data using their unique Sovrin identifier. This gives customers more control over the data they share and organisations a much more efficient and streamlined data-management process for collecting and storing personal data.”

The future is now

Partnering with Evernym is a great way for Barclaycard Payment Solutions to become part of the global self-sovereign identity movement: “Barclaycard is a perfect fit for the Accelerator programme” says Jamie, “because it can experiment and learn by doing, and also explore with peers and experts on hand.”

Ed Black, Director of Innovation at Barclaycard Payment Solutions, says, “We are excited to be involved with the Accelerator Program which is helping us develop our strategic response to SSI market opportunities. With access to Evernym’s insight, tools and expertise, we are really able to speed up our learning about Sovrin and self-sovereign identity. And most importantly, we can rapidly develop solutions that solve real customer and business problems.”

Self-sovereign identity looks set to play an important role in the payments market of the not too distant future. And thanks to the partnership with Evernym, BPS customers will be well placed to benefit from this quick, easy and secure technology.