This Panel was formed at the Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco on December 5, 2015 to unpack the issue of Identity verification on Blockchain. One of the most powerful components of blockchain technology is the equal ability to disintermediate a person’s identity from their data, as to associate identity with a dataset. During this panel of experts, the lines were clearly formed around the notion of who “controls” identity and whether anonymity is considered as valid a form of identity in a transaction as full disclosure.
There can be no blockchain banking without verification of identity on blockchain. While this may seem like an invasive requirement, it may also be considered a liberating requirement. Billions of people are “unbanked” and cannot hold assets because there is no way to identify who owns what. Where blockchain makes banking available to more people, so too must identity be verifiable among those people.
Even in the developed world, identity is deeply flawed. Why would I need to show a driver’s license with address and driving record just to prove that I am old enough to buy a beer, or receive a senior’s discount at the movie theater? Why can’t a person simply prove age, or prove driving ability, or prove residence, or identify any facet of trade without also revealing every other facet? It is often such matters of identifications that can best secure privacy.
This brings to question who would maintain, manage, and / or control identifications. Would it be a fully decentralized system or would it be a permissioned database system? Would the identity institution be a bank or a private corporation, or a government or a decentralized organization?
Finally, what is the core objective of an identity system? Will it project the ability to access something? Would it quantify and qualify the potential to produce something? Does identity pertain equally to the object of commerce and the objective of commerce? To what degree does the security of identity impact the durability of ownership?
Blockchain technology and those who seek to apply it are all encountering the identity issue. From Banks trying to comply with KYC/AML to engineering societies trying to identify the right knowledge assets to solve a particular problem, the question of identity management is a paramount consideration. These are exciting times because the subject is so new. Please sit back and enjoy this rare opportunity for such a diverse panel of experts to drill into an important subject that impacts us all.