2017 The Year of Identity

23 June 2016

Identity is fast becoming a valuable currency in the modern, connected world. Rather than the philosophical view on “Who am I?” “Who are you?” - being able to prove that you are who you say you are - and to successfully tie a transaction to your stated identity is where the value lies.

Ever an existential quandary, we’ve always relied on using our various ‘identities’ to get by in life. Since early man, we’ve conducted transactions of value through trust mechanisms, either assumed or built into these transactions. As the world has evolved and transactions have become more complex, we’ve developed different versions of ourselves, to represent the context within which we find ourselves. Some examples of the many identities that we inhabit include our social media identities, our extramural club identities, our government given identities and our online personas. We use these many forms of  identity to represent ourselves in the situation that we find ourselves in and they rarely overlap. You’d definitely not want your secret ‘naughty website’ identity to be mistakenly represented when applying for a home loan - yet they both represent you and form a part of your identity. In turn, we’ve had to evolve our way of identifying each other, to ensure that enough trust is available in these contemporary transactions.

We’ve devised multiple identity types and ultimately multiple ways to identify. True identity can thus be viewed through many different lenses. The more identity points that you can bring into a transaction, the more trust you bring with it, ultimately allowing for more efficient, seamless transacting to take place. Each identity represents a key to uncovering the reputation that is inextricably linked to it. Have you always paid your creditors on time? Were you a good tenant? Do you give back to society? Your entire transactional history will be tied to your identities. Your identity in a digitally connected world, holds value -  it represents trust - trust is and always will be a form of currency. Now more than ever before, our identities and the reputation that comes with them, are our keys to unlocking value in the current world.

Our extensive research and strategic approach to solving identity verification and management challenges has prompted me to outline what I believe to be the shaping forces within this space, for 2017 and beyond.

1. Blockchain

‘Distributed Ledger Technology’, aka Blockchain technology, will prove to be an unstoppable force in many spheres going into the new year, Identity is definitely one of them. In blockchain identity authentication, the only check performed is whether or not the transaction was signed by the correct private key. It is inferred that whoever has access to the private key is the owner and the exact identity of the owner is deemed irrelevant. More secure, more transparent, seamless identity authentication and management with less reliance on traditional identity data means we’ll be seeing a lot more Blockchain based tech in the Identity arena.

2. AI/ML

Too often we refer to Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) as being one and the same. To borrow from John Kennedy ML is remembering and AI is thinking, remembering, deciding and acting. Both ML & AI will play an evermore important part in the identity game in 2017. Look out for these technologies in the onboarding, anti-hacking and compliance spaces especially.

3. Social-Media

Our social media accounts offer valuable forms of attestation and rich identity data. Integrating social media checks and scoring to build valuable layers of identity information will become a standard practice - especially when other forms of identity and financial data are scarce. Using social media for attestation and onboarding will become an essential element for multi-factor identity verification.

4. IoT

When machines start interacting (and transacting) with each other, which they already are doing, we’ll need to get a firm handle on where, when, what and how much for each and every action. Tracking the identity of each machine and the corresponding business/human owner will be something that keeps the industry on its toes in 2017.

2017 is going to be a year that sets the foundation for the way we perform identity verification in an integrated world. At ThisIsMe, we are already working on some of the aforementioned pioneering innovations and will continue to strive to build multi-factor, global solutions for users, businesses and machines.

Brennan Wright

Head of Marketing, ThisIsMe

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