Insights & Analyses

Blockchain Identity Startup ExistenceID Announces Launch

February 7, 2017

ExistenceID, a secure global identity storage, and onboarding platform aims to forge new solutions to digital identity challenges by utilizing multiple distributed ledger technologies. Launched earlier this month, the Hong Kong-based digital identity startup is led by CEO and co-founder Katherine Noall, previously of the blockchain consulting firm Blockzero.

“Two main things were happening that we saw, people weren’t being given a safe place to hold identities that were being issued, and the data liability being placed on businesses was really heavy,” said Noall, in an interview with One World Identity. “What we’re trying to do is solve both those problems.”

ExistenceID allows users to create a digital identity capsule “a bit like dropbox, that enables people to store their documents, but has a much higher level of security” said Noall. “Each user account is completely self-authenticated…we don’t hold login details, we don’t hold any of the data, it’s zero knowledge.”

Identity documents saved to a digital identity capsule are encrypted and uploaded to the SAFE Network, a secure decentralized data management service. According to Noall, ExistenceID chose the SAFE Network for identity document storage because “that’s what we view as the safest data storage in the world at the moment.”

The mechanism for reporting identity data stored inside a digital identity capsule operates independently, using the Bitcoin blockchain. “We don’t think that it’s safe or good security practices to do the reporting to businesses out of the same part of the application as for the consumers because if something goes wrong there’s a lot of exposure,” said Noall. “We are using the real strengths of each system for the parts of the application that need those strengths.”

For example, in order to complete an online purchase, an ExistenceID user might receive a request from a retailer to verify their address. The user can then select the requested piece of identity data, in this case, address, and have it encrypted and encoded on the Bitcoin blockchain. The retailer would be granted access only to the data chosen for disclosure by the user, and nothing more.

“Report the bit that individuals have agreed to report to the blockchain, and hash that in a way that it’s unidentifiable, and then use that for reporting,” said Noall. “That’s good because we know it can’t be tampered with.”

ExistenceID plans to begin work with corporate beta customers in October 2017. Beta identity capsule accounts will be made available to consumers in November.