Innovative fintech company, ThisIsMe (TIM), which specialises in identity verification, has announced it will soon be launching blockchain technology to further enhance its current services of true identity (ID) verification, onboarding, background checks and KYC/AML (know-your-customer and anti-money laundering).
“While often associated with the virtual currency, Bitcoin, blockchain technology is now being considered as an additional layer of security to ensure anonymity in order to protect yourself online, thereafter enabling your trusted ID to vouch for your participation in the transaction,” says TIM CEO Mark Chirnside.
He says the move will equate to increased transparency for clients and supports TIM’s belief in consensual data transactions.
“This is also in line with our core brand mission of bringing increased trust into every transaction,” he explains.
Alongside biometrics, blockchain technology offers a solution to many digital identity issues, where identity can be uniquely authenticated in an irrefutable, immutable, and secure manner.
Blockchain-based authentication systems are based on irrefutable identity verification, using digital signatures based on public key cryptography.
In blockchain identity authentication, the only check performed, is on whether or not the transaction was signed by the correct private key. It is inferred that whoever has access to the private key is the owner and the exact identity of the owner is then deemed irrelevant.
How will it work?
The blockchain distributed ledger is strengthened every time an individual presents evidence of their identity online. For example, when you open a bank account – that’s one link in the chain. If you take out a home loan, that’s another link in the chain.
Bear in mind that your online identity is not only linked to financial transactions, your social media profiles including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are additional links in the blockchain, building up your digital identity profile.
“Implemented into our current systems, ThisIsMe with its Blockchain Identity and Access Management technology has the potential to reduce current compliance costs to financial institutions and eliminate the crippling fines they face, expanding the concept of Identity as a Currency of the future” Chirnside says.
Identity theft remains a significant concern worldwide and is estimated to cost South African businesses between R1 billion and R2 billion each year. Contributing factors include a strong infrastructure of money wire services, readily available Internet, prepaid cell phones, high levels of corruption within certain companies and government agencies, and lack of police resources/expertise to combat this type of crime.
The Norton Cybersecurity Insights Report, released earlier this year, found that:
- 76% of South Africans believe that the likelihood of identity theft has increased;
- 2 in 3 (67%) feel that it is more difficult to control their personal information due to smartphones and the Internet;
- South Africans are engaged with the topic of security (78% acknowledge the need to actively protect their information), but there is still some notion that security is an inconvenience;
- 58% would rather cancel dinner plans with their best friend than have to cancel their credit/debit cards after their account has been compromised; and
- 58% would rather endure a terrible date than deal with credit/debit card customer service after a breach or hack.
Chirnside concludes that the biggest benefits of the inclusion of blockchain technology is that contract-for-offer and critical data transactions will be more secure, seamless, accountable, consensual and faster.
TIM will be conducting closed beta demos this year, with the new blockchain functionality expected to go live in 2017.