Enterprises everywhere are looking to blockchain, the distributed ledger technology behind Bitcoin, as the new way to transact across business networks. One IBM Blockchain partner, Netki, is building digital identity solutions to help break down barriers related to risk and compliance in modern blockchain environments. In a recent interview with Justin Newton, the CEO of Netki, I was able to get an inside look at the company’s experience with blockchain and The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger, the open-source collaborative initiative for advancing cross-industry blockchain technologies.
Q: Why did you launch Netki?
I believe that in the same way the internet democratized information and communication, blockchain has the opportunity to generate the same level of transformation, inclusion, and value creation by democratizing value transfer. When my co-founder and I looked at the market in 2014, we saw that companies would have the ability to create transformative new businesses or optimize existing ones using blockchain. Unfortunately, there was a major barrier that would block the release of these projects and hinder mass-scale adoption: consumers and money services businesses (MSBs) would need to validate their identity in a manner that complies with key regulations around KYC, KYCC, AML, sanctions, and legal non-repudiation. Large enterprises wouldn’t be able to get to market with their blockchain applications until they were able to meet these types of requirements. Netki solves this by providing digital identity solutions based on open-source technology and open standards that allow such entities to meet their risk and compliance requirements on both public and private blockchain networks.
Q:What are you working on now? Is there anything coming soon that people should know about?
In 2017, we are deep into our customer engagements, helping them move from labs into production. This is likely where our most exciting announcements will come from.
Identity is something that is very context sensitive. Our tools, originally built to help with anti-money laundering and other financial services related needs, are now being extended and used much more broadly, in medical record systems, trade finance, supply chain platforms, and more. As a result, we have built and are extending a modular identity onboarding system for each use case. We’ve been creating specific identity validation processes that fit our customers’ requirements within their own companies and their industry. These extensions have allowed us to meet customer needs around both individual and institutional identity, and how they relate to each other. We haven’t seen anything on the market that offers a cross-vertical enterprise solution at this level of flexibility.
We are also deeply integrating our products into Hyperledger Fabric and other Hyperledger projects to make it easier for developers and enterprises to use Netki’s Digital Identity and other services as a default when they are developing solutions.
Q: What initially interested you in working with Hyperledger Fabric?
From the day we started working on Netki, we were focused on creating open-source standards to solve problems for enterprises and developers. When the Hyperledger community was formed, it became a great place to collaborate with other blockchain companies, systems integrators, and large enterprises to create standards and platforms that can advance commercial and consumer blockchain adoption.
Q: What has surprised you about Hyperledger?
One of the things I like most about the Hyperledger Project is how eager all of the participants are to find ways to work together to create great platforms and solutions for both enterprise clients and consumers. Additionally, the community provides a place for large enterprises to collaborate on what is working and what is not, enabling them to get blockchain technologies into production and producing revenue.
Q: How has Hyperledger helped you “win” clients and achieve your business goals?
Hyperledger will help us win new clients in two important ways. First, by creating open-source standards and platforms, Hyperledger will accelerate the adoption of blockchain technology. Second, by creating a place for different companies to collaborate, it enables members to know who they should be working with as customers and who they should be partnering with to build solutions. We have already found several projects that we are or will be collaborating on with other Hyperledger members.
The IBM Blockchain Ecosystem brings together a range of people and companies interested in blockchain solutions, providing them with resources such as Hyperledger Fabric. Watch the video here.
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