What will you find at the center of every business interaction? People. They are the heart and soul of commerce. However, what is vital to every transaction is trust, and trust in business relationships is built on knowledge. That’s why banks and other business institutions have KYC (know your customer) requirements for identifying and verifying the identity of anyone they interact with.
Identity management is currently carried out in a decentralized manner. Businesses and government entities have access to disparate data, and individuals must supply their personal information over and over but have little control over how that data is used or exchanged. These challenges and potential solutions such as blockchain will be discussed at the upcoming K(NO)W Identity Conference, which will be held May 15 – 17 in Washington, DC.
Identity in the digital age
In an online exchange of money and goods or services, each participant has to be able to trust that the other is real (they are who they say they are) and is able to provide what they say they will. In the digital age, it has become both easier and harder to “trust” a person’s identity. Though the internet has made it possible to provide all sorts of information to corroborate who you are, it has also made it possible to misrepresent, fabricate and steal personal data.
Due to identity theft and fraud, industry enterprises and government agencies have been tasked with a risky, time-consuming and costly undertaking: verifying, managing and protecting the identities of the individuals in their business networks. Many organizations see blockchain as a new way to handle these responsibilities because it can allow individuals to consent and control access to their data as well as provide businesses a trusted view of a person’s identity.
In my previous blog post, “Reimagining the Future of Identity Management With Blockchain,” I explained the fundamental principles of trusted identity management and talked about the benefits of using blockchain to implement a distributed trust model. Through shared ledgers, smart contracts, consensus and privacy capabilities, blockchain can help to standardize identity management processes, reducing cost, time and complexity. Now, I’ll go over three guidelines that can help organizations when they develop this type of blockchain:
Design with a future end-state in mind. A user-centric model based on self-sovereign identity must be easy to use. It should be possible to manage consent and control of personal data across a blockchain in a simplified way but with a distributed trust model. Business applications must also be fully interoperable, spanning both industries and ecosystems.
Evolve from proprietary to fully open platforms. Growth requires flexibility. Blockchains built on The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric — an open-source community project hosted by The Linux Foundation — are permissioned, secure and modular, so they can scale across a business ecosystem. With open, interoperable platforms, identity can be verified in a more robust manner, which can help establish the right levels of trust for individuals and businesses seeking to make business and personal transactions.
Adapt the enterprise business model. Blockchain facilitates new ways of doing business. With a wealth of past performance data to establish reputations and trust, peer-to-peer business models could become more viable.
Then, join me at K(NO)W on May 16 in Atrium Ballroom B from 2:30 to 3:15 PM for the panel: “Identity on Blockchains.” The other panelists and I will be exploring the opportunities and practical challenges of using blockchain and distributed ledger technologies for identity management.
IBM will host several discussions and answer all your blockchain questions at Booths #107 and #109 on the floor throughout K(NO)W, so be sure to stop by. Register today, and I hope to see you there!
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