SelfKey is a decentralized, blockchain based self-sovereign identity ecosystem built on Ethereum that allows individuals to share their identity attributes in a secure, private, distributed, and trusted manner. The SelfKey ecosystem also provides access to a marketplace full of products and services that enables users to really own their digital footprint and identity.
CryptoLingo caught up with Terry Lin, Product Manager of SelfKey in New York to discuss the SelfKey project, upcoming milestones and cryptocurrency landscape.
Q. Tell us about SelfKey?
TL: What SelfKey are trying to do is solve the self-sovereign identity space. The example I give is that if you log into Instagram right now, they have your email account, you use your Facebook account to log in and it is stored on the server somewhere. Spotify has your ID, Uber has your trips, you have all these ID’s separate in the world, but you don’t actually own them. For a crypto application that is decentralized to work on the network there is no database to store your ID, so you need to own it yourself. What we are trying to solve is how can I actually own this through application that then unlocks all these decentralized applications on the blockchain.
A lot of times you do Know Your Customer (KYC) to join token sales, you need to show your passport when you open accounts, you have all these copies of your passport. What we are trying to prove is how can you prove that you are who you are without showing who you are. How can you say that you are American but show somewhere on your ID through a hash on the blockchain that you are American without actually giving away your passport number. As the world gets more digital, owning your ID to unlock all these other applications that are decentralized.
Q. Why do you feel SelfKey is an innovative product?
TL: Our founder Edmund Lowell has been in the space for 5 years. I first met him in 2012 when he was doing incorporations, opening overseas bank accounts, residencies, getting second passports. He has been doing KYC for a while. He knows what is needed from a practical level and now we are implementing this on the blockchain and tying this new technology into that.
Q. SelfKey has had remarkable success so far, raising $21.8M in private and public sales! How was that possible?
TL: I think people just know that the problem we are solving is a big problem. I think identity, when you are really in the crypto space, this is what really unlocks everything else application wise and the way we are approaching it, because Edmund has been in the space for so long, that working with notaries, third party documentation, verification and things like that, he knows how this works offline. We are just putting this online based on reality for a lot of things and problems that we are trying to solve.
Q. What is your favourite SelfKey product?
TL: For me it is the wallet that we are releasing to the community. My favourite feature is managing your custom tokens. If you have 10 coins, managing these assets is very hard to send and receive, sometimes you buy on an exchange, sometimes you buy through a token sale. With our wallet you can basically store it on the wallet, but we also pulls the latest price from different API’s on coin market cap. Right now, if you store your coins somewhere you know you have 1000 coins but every time you want to see the price you have to load some website and load an app but our wallet can automatically update this without having to refresh it every hour. That is where we are starting out and we are also partnering with exchanges in the market place to help them do KYC so our wallet can do two things right now, it basically builds an ID profile so if you have a copy of your passport and a selfie, you can save it locally in your wallet and then when you apply for a bank account or an exchange you just send it from the wallet.
Q. How does SelfKey make itself different from the competition?
TL: Through our partnerships. SelfKey has partnered with a lot of exchanges and decentralized exchanges. We get a lot of business development calls to help them power their KYC because the government is clamping down and they need to collect information. If you register on an exchange you need to prove who you are, but if you are an exchange how are you going to collect all this information in an easy way especially if you have one hundred thousand people signing up every month. It becomes a very big burden and hassle, how do you save this information, do you really want everyone’s passport sitting on a server somewhere.
The idea is how can we figure that out with these exchanges is kind of the problem we are solving, and I think the use case for mainstream adoption is probably still a while away, but we are trying to start with certain market segments first then trying to expand upward. Early adopters, exchanges and corporate, then expand from there.
Q. Is there anything you can give the CryptoLingo community?
TL: SelfKey wallets will be released to our community and will integrate with exchanges first so if you want an easy way to sign up on exchanges without submitting all these documents you can just save it on your SelfKey wallet once and then just one click apply and that’s it. This wallet is the first launch then we are going to build it out throughout the year and add more products and services so down the line you will be able to open bank accounts and incorporate second passports if you are into that.
Q. Where do you see Blockchain in the future?
TL: It’s exciting because you see it across technology, law, business, finance, history, politics, geography, all these different things that are tangent to this and you are like how is this going to evolve. If you look at when bitcoin was made in 2009 right after the financial crisis, I think the younger generation that grew up from that maybe they saw friends lose their homes so I think there is a certain libertarian view to all that stuff. When you look at money as a whole like that and when you take that power away it scares a lot of people but also makes a lot of people excited because then you can be like hey, I am free. If you understand that money evolves as a concept because 10,000 years ago if I had a cow and you were growing strawberries, I would be like hey do you want half a cow, I’ll trade you. But why would we do that now, we just use our cards. So money has evolved, you take $100 bill right now, 5,000 years ago it was worth nothing. Even 300 years ago, the United States is not even that old, so it’s just a piece of paper so money evolve. Money is a form of a web of trust, so how does that evolve over time and I think as the world gets digital I think crypto is the next evolution. Who is to tell you what you can and can’t do digitally, I can email you something on the internet but why can’t I send it and value it? This is what makes it exciting, especially with mobile apps you pay through coins, you have stickers you can buy, it is a very native concept for a lot of the younger generation, and then crypto it will extend from that, especially as everyone matures in the next 5-10 years we will start to see a big shift. I think blockchain is going to change a lot of things, voting, finance, settlements, but I think certainly we need to unlock identity first to actually access all of this so pay attention to SelfKey.