One of the biggest players in the crypto industry is setting the experiment with ways of giving its users more control of their personal information. Coinbase, which is a crypto exchange turned corporate unicorn, has a 17-person team right now, who are exploring decentralized identity solutions. The product manager of the identity team of Coinbase, named B. Byrne, said that he wants to help people own more of who they actually are online.
Scaling the users from just a few of them to a meaningful group of Dapp users
The approach of Byrne relies on creating bridges between the products of Coinbase, like its mobile wallet, with a built-in decentralized application Dapp explorer.
In his mind, the best way of starting lies in identifying a small segment of Coinbase users that would gain real value from controlling more of their personal data, instead of Coinbase repeatedly collecting, as well as storing their know-your-customer or KYC information across the products of the platform.
In the 12 months that come, Byrne said that his team has the purpose of scaling these experiments from just a few users to a meaningful group of Dapp users. Additionally, to the tech-savvy power users, Byrne also stated that identity solutions could have the most immediate effect for customers who are not getting access to some things, as it is too hard as is.
Byrne also added that they think it is an integral part of their future and they are thinking about the tools which they need to ship for that.
He also said that his team takes with projects such as the W3C Credentials Community Group. W3C member, as well as crypto veteran, named Christopher Allen, said that the group has the purpose of launching a Decentralized Identifiers or DIDs Working Group in January of 2019, which can recommend standards through the Massachusetts-based World Wide Web Consortium.
The entire industry needs to find better ways for standardizing development models related to digital identities
Even though Allen urges companies such as Coinbase to take a more active role in such standards-building efforts – arguing that at least 5% of the budget of a tech corporation has to be devoted to community contributions, but such efforts are still too academic and may distract from the daily priorities of serving customers.
Indeed, the VP of corporate and business development of Coinbase, named Emilie Choi, said that there are no plans so far to delegate a portion of the $300 million Series E which Coinbase raised in October to the identities team or related community projects – aside from maybe hiring at least three more digital identity experts.
The chairman of the data network Shyft, named Joseph Weinberg, said that the whole industry needs to realize and formalize some better ways to standardize development models which are related to digital identities. The data network already works with government entities in Bermuda and Mauritius, to test data-sharing and privacy technologies.
The team of Byrne, which started with a few Coinbase Wallet users, hopes to find niche groups which could benefit from partially decentralized identity solutions in specific, as well as regulator-friendly contexts.
Based on his own experiences in building international, as well as compliant privacy solutions, the chairman of Shyft also said that he does not think that decentralized identity solutions are ever going to permit crypto exchange users to control all of their own data.
However, he said that companies can cooperate to give a user the right to choose how data sharing happens. Also appended that he doesn’t have any problem paying for a service where he knows how the identity data is used.
The collaboration will enable companies to expand services across jurisdictions
When it comes to the creation of systems of this type, the W3C co-founder, Allen, also emphasized the significance of distinguishing authentication – the relationship between the digital data and a real person – from authorization – the ability to do different things, like buying securities.
Byrne generally agreed with this distinction, and he added that it does not feel like there is a clear standard which they have decided on that will solve a problem.
But, in the mind of Weinberg, collaboration could make it much easier for companies to expand services across jurisdictions, which is a priority for Coinbase too.
Even the team of Byrne develops identity solutions which reduce cross-platform friction or also increase the privacy of customers, these solutions are probably going to rely on public tools, as well as protocols which exist beyond Coinbase.
Allen also mentioned the infamous Heartbleed vulnerability which impacted a few types of open-source software in 2014. He also said that some official working groups such as the one which his W3C community project aims to become can actually create international standards which are referenced as authority by the regulators, as well as the technologists too.
Byrne agreed that Coinbase would need to commit to keeping the infrastructure for some future solutions healthy, without giving his comments on some specific resources or priorities. He expressed some curiosity about how Coinbase could take a more active role in community efforts in the future.