After struggling to use the blockchain in Illinois, two former state employees are privately developing a way to use digital identity management technology nationwide, and have partnered with Deloitte, one of the accounting firms " Big Four ", to do it.
Attest Inc., co-founded in March by former director of the blockchain strategy Cab Morris and former vice-director of entrepreneurship Jennifer O & # 39; Rourke, announced the partnership 6 November. Their ultimate goal is to bring the equivalent of a digital portfolio to the government market – a tool to make it easier and faster for citizens to demonstrate who they are when they are at the DMV, banking, traveling, voting, applying for government subsidies or doing anything else that requires an identity document. If Attest is successful, future innovations that depend on digital IDs may become more viable for their government customers.
A Deloitte press release said that Attest is working on two products: Attest Wallet, a consumer application for sharing personal data verified with governments and companies; and Attest Enterprise, a pair of APIs for governments and companies that interface with users who try to authenticate and manage their identification information.
Morris said that Attest is the result of months of work informed by O & # 39; Rourke's government experiences, added to a platform developed by more than five years of research and development by engineers at Digital Bazaar, an online payments innovator based in Virginia, identity and credential technologies. He said that Deloitte's role will help them bring Attest's portfolio and APIs to market.
O & # 39; Rourke recalled that during their working period for Illinois, she and Morris had tried to implement blockchain in a handful of registration services: title deeds, academic credentials, register of health care providers , energy credit markets and vital records. But the complexity of managing identity, who has verifiable credentials and how they can be forwarded across departments, has always been an obstacle.
O & # 39; Rourke said he realized that any solution would have to be accessible between departments and states, able to interact with anyone, from Illinois to California, to Indiana or New York.
"If we do not resolve identity as a key layer that these distinct use cases, such as the register of title deeds or the register of health care providers, would be at the top, we would essentially risk building digital islands instead. of islands government departments, "he said. "The theme of both these challenges was portability and interoperability".
Morris said that one of the values of this tool is that users do not have to rely on the other to "attest" on their behalf in order to access the ledger of personal information saved on the blockchain. It gives the user more control over their information.
He stressed that one of the challenges that ensues is that not everyone can manage their digital key – some do not want to, and some, like children, can not legally. And others may not have a smartphone to store a key on. This requires building a user experience for all levels of technical skill.
"We have a finished product, a finished beta, which we are working on proof-of-concept and on smaller pilots," said Morris. "From the start of next year, we will have a complete production ready system for each customer to start and use immediately."
After these pilots with public and private partners, Morris said, Attest plans to put its digital wallet in the hands of more end users in 2019. Later this year, he hopes to launch a software-as-a-service to help governments quickly order which APIs can connect to the wallet.
Attest is not the first to explore the concept of blockchain identity management – Morris has appointed Sovrin and Uport as industry peers – but works with them on a daily basis, both to build on their innovations and to avoid their market share.
"Interoperability is so fundamental to build a foundation for these protocols … because it is in our best interest and in the interest of our customers and anyone who uses these technologies," he said.
Morris noted that blockchain innovators sometimes anticipate themselves by talking about what is possible as opposed to the upcoming, so they expect that the next few months will result in more work than announcements.
"We'll be pretty quiet from here on until we can prove that people are using this significantly," he said. "We want to show how people use it rather than how they could".