MELD has seen explosive engagement over the past year with its ISPO launch, through to its vision of banking the two billion individuals currently unbanked and the plethora of services it aims to offer them. Navigating such a technically complex and political landscape however brings about its challenges. To help with this, MELD has been cultivating strategic partners in order to facilitate their vision and unify the ecosystem.
Here I break down some of these incredibly exciting partnerships.
Who Has Identity?
Identity is a set of unique characteristics, be it a set of qualities or beliefs, that allows individuals to be uniquely distinguished and empowers them to exercise their rights and responsibilities fairly in society. Identities can be held accountable for dissenting actions or appraised for good ones.
In the emerging world, 1.4 billion people have no legal identity, half of whom reside in Africa. Reasons for this identity deficit are complex, derived from a whole host of causes: oppressive regimes, corrupt governments, war, religion, poor economic infrastructure, isolation or administrative cost. Whatever the reason, everyone has the right to identity in order to bring them freedom and prosperity. Without legal identity, essential services such as banking, education, healthcare and legally binding documents translating to property ownership and job security are unavailable. The consequences from a lack of these services can be desolate, making it virtually impossible to break the chains of poverty suppressing posterity. Furthermore, a lack of identity leaves people vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, particularly children. This major identity crisis is a top priority for the United Nations (UN) and resolving it will improve the lives of millions and reduce crime associated with these vulnerable people.
To tackle a lack of legally recognised identity worldwide, part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 16.9 aims to provide legal identity for all by 2030.
The UN Legal Identity Agenda Task Force (UNLIA TF) was established in 2018, where 13 UN agencies are working together to assist member states to provide legal identity for all by 2030, with biometrics playing a key role.
A report from Research And Markets predicts the global biometrics market of $19.5 billion in 2020, is set to rise to $44.1 billion by 2026 as national ID programs are set to use biometrics to secure identity.
The report concluded by Research And Markets details a vast amount of market analytics and topics such as ‘Developing Economies to Spearhead Future Adoption of Biometric Technology’, ‘Biometric Startups Set to Transform Competitive Scenario’ and ‘Fingerprint Technology Remains the Dominant Biometric System in Use for Immigration Purposes’ just to name a few.
Who Owns Your Identity? You?
In the developed world with the advent of the digital age, identity has taken its form online, and snippets are scattered all over the internet. Social media, shopping, questionnaires, app permissions, tracking data, banking, government documents and games are all portals to personal information and gateways to our identity. With all this identity information stored online on numerous centralized servers, it should come as no surprise that this information is a prime target for criminals. Identity theft in the US alone affects 15 million people every year, totalling $50 billion in financial losses. 33% of US citizens have fallen victim at some point, with child identity theft also being rife, with over 1 million reported cases in the US yearly. Strategies deployed by major corporations, for example Apple ID, offer enhanced identity protection on their platform, but at what cost?
Social media and corporate giants have set themselves up as identity facilitators, representing you online when you click ‘Login with’ on third party websites. Although certain personal data may be somewhat secure on their central servers, what’s frightening is that as well as sharing your data with your permission, they are selling certain data without it. According to WebFx, data brokering is a $200 billion industry. In its simplest form, consumer data is sold to data brokers who then target advertise certain products.It appears that identity theft takes its form legally as well as illegally. In fact, to opt-out, you need to pay companies to keep your information off databases.
Governing and policing online identity is difficult as there are no set standards. The EU have made great progress with their General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), allowing much more control over the data shared, however until there is a unified hard standard, you will never own or have full control of your identity.
Between underdeveloped and developed countries, it is clear that having Identity and securing it, plays a vital role in empowering people, giving them better prosperity and safer lives. Blockchain is primed to set the ‘Gold Standard’ for digital identity becoming secure, and gaining people's confidence in terms of trust.
Imagine if you owned your own identity, digitally secured on the blockchain. Your identity would become tamper proof with hacked and compromised accounts being a thing of the past. Better still, imagine if you could share parts of your digital identity, and records associated with it, with certain authorities, such as medical records, educational certificates or property ownership, at the press of your finger. You decide when, how and what to share about yourself. Crossing borders, voting, proving virtually anything instantly with biometrics through inclusive accountability would give a sense of empowerment and freedom like never before. The world would suddenly become a much safer and fluid place.
This is where IAMX comes in!
IAMX is a free Swiss based Self Sovereign Identity (SSI) and authentication solution allowing users to own and share their identity using their Biometrics. Biometrics include fingerprint, iris and facial recognition. Built on the Cardano blockchain, IAMX is a highly secure decentralized identity solution providing one-click identity at a governmental level. IAMX’s goal is to enable and protect human rights in compliance with the UN’s Article 8 of The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
As well as having an aligned vision and a mission for inclusion, the MELD x IAMX partnership brings a unique and powerful solution that has the potential to adopt and onboard millions of people.
The appeal of a one-click solution for identity is incredibly exciting but combine this with cutting edge financing, all possible from a mobile phone and delivered to some of the poorest people in the world, then the potential for accelerated growth is colossal.
IAMX plans to implement 120 stands across Africa and Europe, concluding their ISPO, where users can approach a stand and create a digital biometrically secure identity. Once created, an identity is linked to the individual for life. Applications such as MELD will be made available through these biometric gateways, offering once identity deprived individuals, decentralized state-of-the-art financing, in a market hungry for it. Once established, integration with a whole host of public services will begin to open up the floodgates for mass adoption.
As we continue to travel deeper into the digital era, online services will one day be the only way we interact and prove our identity. Currently, online identity confirmation in the form of Know Your Customer (KYC), or form filling can take anywhere between 5 and 15 mins. A one-click blockchain solution in proving your identity can be up to 900 times quicker. Imagine the time saved if you interact with services several times a week. The comparison translates to seconds versus hours.
IAMX’s roadmap illustrates their targets for the coming 3 years. In the second half of 2022 IAMX aims to onboard 3 telecommunication partners, have 500 functional terminals and 120 business cases. By the second half of 2024 these figures are set to grow to 49 telecommunication partners, 3000 functional terminals and 840 business cases.
Imagine IAMX as an intermediary marketing company. They are the gateway for linking services to customers. Customers own their own identity and credentials and use the IAMX gateway to interact with these services. IAMX receives a commission for this facilitation. The model for owning your own identity doesn’t just serve the holder. There are several benefits to the verifier (service provider), telco (data transmission) company and state. A verifier, be it a car rental company or insurance broker, is set to acquire more customers. More customers combined with safer and more efficient interaction results in greater profits. A similar model will exist for telco companies who monetise their customer base. State adoption and integration would benefit them through the facilitation of currency adoption, voting, census documents, taxation etc. The benefits are many with laws potentially being written into smart contracts.
Another issue that IAMX sets to address with its tokenized identity solution is the elimination of fraud. The team behind the project have a strong telecommunications background and state in a recent interview that fraud in the existing telecommunications industry leads to lost commission for intermediaries such as marketing companies advertising the telco products. This fraud can be in the form of customers simply not paying their mobile phone bill. By using blockchain identity solutions, a customer interacting with a mobile phone company who is integrated with a 1 click-fulfillment system will have to pay immediately for the services it uses. IAMX will then get the commission revenue from that company, eliminating any potential fraud. Many companies will currently lose out on commission as a result of the parameters of the current system. Who wouldn’t flock and adopt a system that eliminates fraud, increases revenue and provides better customer service. The demand for such innovation will, in my opinion, skyrocket and propel the economy of African nations into hyperdrive, similarly to how China emerged as a superpower incredibly quickly. With mobile phones being the ideal technology for biometric identity and being so accessible, a similar shift is primed in Africa and other nations where the use of blockchain technology will propel millions out of poverty. Web 3.0 is here and the MELD x IAMX partnership is a catalyst in steering identity innovation into a positive future.
The opinions shared within this article are those solely of the MELD Ambassador. Note that the content within should not be considered financial, legal, or tax advice. Neither the author nor MELD Labs PTE Ltd. are financial, legal or tax advisors. None of this content should be used to make any form of financial, tax, or legal decisions. Do your own research and consult professionals as needed for official policies, restrictions, and requirements in your jurisdiction.
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