Trust is an essential part of our life. Without trust, simple things like even a conversation become impossible.
In the physical world, we have come up with means to build trust or get around the trust issue: We use cash so that we only have to trust the state and not each other in value exchanges. We have state issued ID cards to prove who we are, so that border control does not need to trust us but the ID document. In the background data aggregators and credit bureaus track how we pay our bills and create registries of our trustworthiness at the cost of annihilating our privacy.
This system works reasonably well when we transact in the physical world (as citizens of a developed country). It largely fails in the online world.
Online, you cannot even make a purchase without a credit card where the merchant trusts the card issuer and on social media, you never know whether you are talking to a sincere person, a crook or a robot, when you are interacting with another virtual identity.
It is fair to say, that something is seriously wrong with our identity systems which excludes so many people and is not fit for online use, which – in the long term – will be the only relevant use case.
At the same time, modern cryptography has provided us with tools that allow us to create perfect digital identities which can perfectly identify and authorize anybody while guarding their privacy.
The reason for this paradoxical situation – perfect technology but no actual trust – is that it is very hard to link a digital identity to a physical identity. It is very hard to transfer credibility from your physical identity to an online identity of your choice.
For example, it is largely impossible to prove that a social media profile or your email (which you use as the anchor for all your other profiles) belongs to a real person. As a result, it is impossible to open a bank account with just an email address and you never know whether an individual or a a robot controls a social media account. Banks typically even have you visit their offices and check your physical ID against your physical self before they provide a digital identity to you, which you can then use to do your banking.
fidentity’s mission is to make it easy to link the online and the offline world in a privacy preserving way. Our product checks who you are in the real or legal sense. Once we have established that you do exist and who you are, you can let fidentity selectively confirm claims you are making about yourself.
For example, think about your social media account. Let’s assume that you want to prove that you are using your true name and your profile picture actually shows you. fidentity will check your ID documents and compare it to your profile and provide an attestation that the two match. You can share a link where others can verify that your profile matches your legal identity. However, nobody will be able to find out your age or anything else you don’t want to share in this context.
We believe that fidentity is the missing piece to make the online identity jigsaw complete. Giving consumers the power to control who knows what about their real identity and selectively tying this information to different digital identities will enable consumers to perform more important transactions in the digital realm.