October 30, 2015

Decentralised government project Bitnation offers refugees blockchain IDs and bitcoin debit cards

excerpt from article by Ian Allison


Moving from the sublime to the slightly more realistic - was Nick Williamson and Cecile Baird from the Credits team, which have now implemented the world's first government blockchain application in the Isle of Man.

Credits is known to be involved in a number of interesting projects at this time, including providing the blockchain technology to Peter Randall's SETL system for doing wholesale trading and banking payment finality. Credits is also currently building a federated KYC system with Isle of Man government.

Williamson summed up blockchain capabilities as "a series of statements that are both irrevocable and attributable". He said the KYC system uses the blockchain as a more modern form of public key infrastructure, "taking the source data from the passport office, from the DMV, from the post office from the utility companies, and using that to prove granular things about a person's identity".

He said the current insecure and clunky process of KYC process involves uploading a picture of passport, a picture of a utility bill and other supporting documentation. "This fundamentally doesn't tell you anything about the person on the other end of that internet connection - and also gives away the keys to the kingdom so to speak.

"So anyone who has that picture then can use it to impersonate you going forward, so each time you sign up for a new service you are actually increasing your liability that your ID might be stolen.

"Instead we can use blockchain and granular bits of person's identity with their public keys, that they have generated, ideally on a secure device like we carry around with us right now - our phones and more modern laptops.

"That gives you the guarantee that if you get a message signed by one of those public keys, it's at least somebody who had that device and knows their PIN. So we see the process much closer to the way you would allow permissions when you install an app on your phone right now.

A customer would be empowered to send a cryptographically signed message that allows a bank, for example, to see four bits of one's identity and reference the place where these can be found. It is done automatically and would show on an interface that it had been authorised, he said.

Regarding the decentralisation of government authority, Williamson added: "It's not necessarily about giving up power. It's about opening up access to these trust networks we have built up as a human civilisation using software."