Civic Demos Vision for Blockchain Web Login Service
Oct 25, two thousand sixteen at 22:50 UTC by Pete Rizzo
Civic CEO Vinny Lingham isn’t someone you’d be likely to identify as quiet.
Yet, since its launch in January, the outspoken founder of the Palo Alto identity startup has been tight-lipped about his fresh venture, the go after up to mobile bounty card service Gyft (which was sold to Very first Data in mid-2014). That switched today as Lingham previewed a fresh use case for the service today to a crowd at the Money2020 conference in Las Vegas.
Very first described as a digital identity protection startup, Lingham showcased how users who provide Civic with information such as their Social Security number and home address can now leverage the service to log into online accounts at participating websites.
In this light, Lingham touted Civic as an alternative to OAuth, the open standard for authorization that today enables users to access customized practices on platforms including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter, one of its very first major champions.
In interview, Lingham described the services that use the technology today as “very centralized” while positioning them as unfriendly to developers and consumers due to how they both track and enable access to this information.
Lingham told CoinDesk:
“Civic offers the capability for third-party websites to request information from a consumer, or in the case of an app, transfer your individual information and approve the information transfer to that site. But it’s up to you whether you want to give it to them and Civic doesn’t track what happens.”
At today’s event, Lingham gave a demonstration of how users can sign up for Civic, and how it stores the credentials to services locally on user devices, “decentralizing data architecture” and suggesting “anonymous web logins”.
Lingham said Civic is now in the process of onboarding playmates, and that it is particularly interested in working with financial institutions that want to suggest a fresh way to meet anti-money laundering (AML) requirements.
So far, Lingham said Civic is working with ridesharing startup RideConnect, and he explained how the service reduces the need for its app to track and store customer data.
“We are never in the middle of this transaction, but the beauty is [they’re] getting verified information,” CTO Jonathan Smith said.
Onstage, Lingham was open about the company’s use of blockchain technology and why the technology reduces friction in the identity verification process, however he didn’t suggest any specifics on how this aspect of the service works.
For example, Lingham indicated that blockchain will likely play a role in facilitating and guarding the information exchange that takes place inbetween users and websites that seek to use Civic as a way to suggest logins.
“We’re using cryptography and blockchain to sign messages back and forward and display that you’re holder of the credentials,” Lingham said, adding:
“If you can verify if you have the private keys that are verified by Civic, you can prove you’re the authorized user.”
Blockchain technology, he suggested, would also enable Civic to suggest the service without wielding or managing the data.
Still, Civic isn’t the only player working on solving problems related to identity, a sector that has received fresh attention in the wake of improving sentiment about blockchain.
As opposed to larger firms that have voiced interest in the use case, Lingham said that innovation in this area was more likely to come from a startup, one that has a “core culture and DNA” that supports consumer privacy.
“How many companies want to build a decentralized ID system where they have no data on the consumer? We don’t want to do data mining, we do things that protect the user,” he said.
Lingham argued that this gives Civic an advantage over companies that have traditionally monetized by leveraging access to consumer data.
“It’s all about empowering the user.”
Disclaimer: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Civic.
Photo via Pete Rizzo for CoinDesk
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