tykn digital identity management

Mozambique: How digital identities can help in case of a natural catastrophe

Last Thursday, cyclone Idai left a devastating trail in Mozambique. With more than 400 deaths accounted for, the International Red Cross estimates more than 400.000 people were left homeless. The United Nations is describing it as “the worst climate disaster ever in the southern hemisphere”.

The Red Cross teams on sight are distributing shelter supplies to affected families and chlorine tablets to purify the water. Diseases transmitted by contaminated water are one of the biggest concerns in case of a catastrophe where normal water supplies are interrupted.

“Many families have lost everything” according to the Red Cross spokesperson, Jamie LeSueur. If they also lost their documents or if the governmental identification processes have been compromised, not being able to prove who they are can cause irreparable damage to their short term survival.

Mozambique has the third highest smartphone adoption rate in the African continent (sources 1, 2 and 3) meaning that digital identities could play a pivotal role in easing people’s suffering in a natural catastrophe scenario. This is how:

1) Aid expedition

Humanitarian aid distribution – whether shelter, food or cash based assistance – requires a strong identification layer. How else could an NGO account for what aid has been distributed and to whom?

Current identity management systems are paper-based and make this process reliant on vouchers. Paper vouchers. This not only slows the aid distribution process – and in a scenario like this time is lives – but it also jeopardizes the quality of aid provided. If a citizen is to lose their voucher they would have to start the aid request process all over again. Worse: unfortunately it is quite common, in a scenario like this, that vouchers are stolen or subject to fraud. In a paper-based system, NGOs have no means to efficiently combat wrongful behaviours.

Digital identities will provide an efficient way for an affected person to request aid. A trusted organisation can quickly issue a digital credential that verifies that person’s identity and allows them faster access to their services. All vouchers are digitised and, alongside the identity credentials, are held in a digital identity wallet in that person’s mobile device. Digital vouchers can’t be lost or stolen and provide an NGO with important and reliable information about who has been aided.

Digital identities leveraging distributed ledger technology provide a private and secure channel to share and request personal data to and from an organisation.

2) Displacement to another city/country

In catastrophe scenarios like this, the people affected are often displaced to another city or country. They become refugees. Not being able to prove who they are prevents them from accessing services like healthcare, education or banking and excludes them from society.

Digital identities allow for a trusted organisation such as the government or an NGO to issue a digital credential attesting to that person’s identity. Through the use of distributed ledger technology that credential is verified with a signature from that organisation. A signature that cannot be deleted or subject to fraud.

When verifying a persons’ affected identity, the verifier does not need to verify the accuracy of the data contained in the credential. The verifying party will validate the issuers’ signature who issued and attested to this credential to then decide whether he trusts the issuers’ assessment about the accuracy of the data.

A process like this, that eliminates the possibility of identity fraud and where everyone in the network has the same source of truth about which credentials are still valid and who attested to the validity of the data inside the credential (without revealing the actual data) will speed and facilitate identification processes between governmental departments and between governments. Accounting for less bureaucracy, less need for data management and possible frauds.

Above all, this will ease people’s suffering as it will allow them to quickly access services, such as healthcare or banking, and be included in society again. Their identities and their access to human rights are protected. Right there on their mobile devices.

More on Tykn‘s digital identity platform here.


Digital Identity Management: Why Blockchain Matters

digital identity management tykn blockchain personal data

Current identity management systems have privacy and security problems. And blockchain technology may be the solution for them.

What is Blockchain?

Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), commonly simply called “Blockchain Technology”, refers to the technology behind decentralised databases providing control over the evolution of data between entities through a peer-to-peer network, using consensus algorithms that ensure replication across the nodes of the network.

More simply put:

Imagine a book (or ledger) that anyone could obtain, free of charge, where anything written on its pages would be there forever, and at the same time, would be cross-referenced with the other books to check whether what was written to be valid and true; this is the essence of DLT.

What is Identity Management?

Also known as “identity and access management”, or IAM, identity management comprises all the processes and technologies within an organisation that are used to identify, authenticate and authorize someone to access services or systems in that said organisation or other associated ones.

Examples of this would range from customers and/or employees accessing software or hardware inside a company/enterprise – and the level of access, privileges and restrictions each user has while doing so – or, in a governmental setting, the issuing and verification of birth certificates, national id cards, passports or driver’s licenses (that allow a user/citizen to not only prove his identity but also access services from the government and other organisations).

The problem with current Identity Management Systems

Most of the current identity management systems are weak and outdated. Paper-based systems are at risk of loss, destruction or fraud. Digital systems, if centralised, are honeypots of personal data for hackers. Constantly subject to leaks and breaches. Since 2017 alone, more than 600 million personal details – such as addresses or credit card numbers – have been hacked, leaked or breached from organisations

Identities need to be portable and verifiable everywhere, any time, and digitization can enable that. But being digital is not enough. Identities also need to be private and secure.

The importance of Blockchain for Identity Management

A distributed ledger (a “blockchain”) enables everyone in the network to have the same source of truth about which credentials are valid and who attested to the validity of the data inside the credential, without revealing the actual data.

Privacy and security for Digital Identity Management

Tykn’s digital identity management platform uses Sovrin. A global registry for public keys to verify off-chain data with those keys.

Through the infrastructure of Sovrin, the verifying parties do not need to check the validity of the actual data in the provided proof but can rather use the Sovrin blockchain to check the validity of the attestation and attesting party (such as the government) from which they can determine whether to validate the proof.

For example, when an identity owner presents a proof of their date-of-birth, rather than actually checking the truth of the date of birth itself, the verifying party will validate the government’s signature who issued and attested to this credential to then decide whether he trusts the government’s assessment about the accuracy of the data.

Hence, the validation of a proof is based on the verifier’s judgement of the reliability of the attestor.

sovrin blockchain digital identity management

Leveraging the Sovrin blockchain establishes trust between the parties and guarantees the authenticity of the data and attestations, without actually storing any personal data on the blockchain.

This is crucial as a distributed ledger is immutable, meaning anything that is put on the ledger can never be altered nor deleted, and thus no personal data should ever be put on the ledger.

Why is it a bad idea to put personal data on a blockchain?

  1. Putting personal data on the ledger puts the privacy of the users in danger (as it will constantly be subject to hacking and data breaches). It could always be hacked (if not now, probably at some point in the future)
  2. It violates current privacy regulation (e.g. GDPRright to be forgotten);
  3. it is also not efficient as an identity is dynamic (attributes can change over time e.g. house address or number of children).

What exactly goes on the blockchain

Only references and the associated attestation of a user’s verified credential are put on the ledger.

Privacy can be ensured through non-correlation principles via pseudonymisation. So, instead of storing actual private information, the only things stored on the ledger (for the purpose of verification) are:

  1. Public Decentralised Identifiers (Public DIDs) and associated DID Descriptor Objects (DDOs) with verification keys and endpoints. 
    • DIDs are a new type of unique identifiers for verifying digital identities, and are entirely controlled by the identity owner. DIDs are independent of centralised registries, authorities or identity providers.
  2. Schemas
    • The formal description for the structure of a credential.
  3. Credential definitions
    • The different (often tangible) proofs of identity or qualification issued by authorities; such as drivers licenses, passports, identification cards, credit cards, etc. Hence, credential definitions are — as the name suggests — merely the definitions of these different credentials to be stored on the ledger.
  4. Revocation registries
    • An option for issuers to be able to revoke the claim. The revocation registry is what tells the rest of the world how the issuer will publish the revocation information.
  5. Proofs of consent for data sharing
    • In order to prove consent or reception of data (basically saying the data has been received and checks have been executed on it), these consent receipts (i.e. proofs of consent) let people do so.

Self-Sovereign Identity Management

Through the use of the Sovrin blockchain, Self-Sovereign Identities may become a reality. A Self-Sovereign Identity is an identity you own. It’s yours. Only you hold it, on your own personal digital identity wallet, and only you decide who gets to “see” it and what of it they get to “see”.

This avoids the honeypot problem. There are no centralised storage of identity that may be subject to breaches. Meaning that for hackers to steal 50 million identity records they would have to hack those 50 million people individually. Considerably more difficult.

The Benefits of Self-Sovereign Identities

A digital identity management system where organisations store the minimum necessary personal data of their users means less personal data management and less bureaucracy. Reducing data management costs and increasing the efficiency of identification processes. All while putting people’s privacy and security first.

According to Darrell O’Donnell, a digital identity expert, companies are realising the major liability that is storing personal data of customers (or employees). Every breach, loss or theft of personal data may turn into significant lawsuits and fines. Which may mean that, in the near future, companies will also start working their way into Self-Sovereign Identity solutions.


Sovrin is a global platform, with 60+ trusted Stewards (like IBM, CISCO and Tykn) operating the network, covering every continent (except antarctica).

Learn more about Tykn’s digital identity platform, an identity management system leveraging blockchain technology, here.

SR. SOLIDITY DEVELOPER

Senior Solidity Developer
About the role:

Tykn is looking to hire a Senior Solidity Developer to accelerate the scaling of the company! 

Do you have a proven track record in solidity smart-contracts development and are looking for a new challenge? Look no further!

Responsibilities Requirements
  • – The (re)evaluation and (re)design of the system architecture, which is based on Solidity smart contracts.
  • – Ensure the validity of the system by testing the code.
  • – Ensure resiliency, privacy and upgradeability in the code that is built.
  • – Work within Agile and DevOps frameworks.
  • – Guide in the alignment with overall architecture design together with the rest of the technical team.
  • – Assist in bug-fixes and other problem-solving processes.
  • – Provide detailed technical information at e.g. conferences or meet-ups
  • – In-depth understanding of Blockchain technology
  • – 2+ years experience in developing Ethereum smart contracts written in Solidity.
  • – High level of experience of working in Agile projects with highly automated DevOps.
  • – Experience in system testing
  • – Experience in collaborating with User Interface developers.
  • – Experience in incident and problem resolution in production environments.
  • – Enthusiasm for working in a space full of unknowns, pivoting as needed, and being comfortable with not knowing the end state is a must.
  • – Teamwork, flexibility, initiative, communication and organisation competencies are required.
  • – Experience of full-stack development, especially with Angular and Node, is an advantage.

We offer:

A friendly and modern workplace in the center of the city of Leiden, The Netherlands. The office building houses various amenities, including a gym, wellness area and swimming pool overlooking the city. We work with one of the largest NGOs in the world, creating the impact needed in the identity space for social and economic inclusion. You will be working with dynamic professionals and ego-free team players who value taking initiative and spearheading development processes. You can count on a competitive salary, creative freedom, and plenty of ways to increase your skills in an inspiring international environment. We also always have international events and trips planned throughout Europe, the U.S. and MENA region, where the team is usually present. We are impacting the lives of billions of people, hence changing the meaning of being a “billionaire”!

So are you the next Solidity Dev. Billionaire? Please apply by emailing your resume with cover letter to: jobs@tykn.tech


Note: this position requires you to be on location Monday to Friday at least for part of the day to make sure everything is handled. This is not a remote role.

FRONTEND ENGINEER (Mobile/Web)

As a Frontend Engineer

YOU:

…are passionate about Frontend Development and have a proven affinity with UX and visual design principles.

…have previously worked on blockchain projects.

…have the magic to turn designs into well-functioning responsive products.

…are quick to reach consensus with other team members, which allows you to work in a more streamlined and performance-focused manner.

…will be part of a small team that consists of passionate, intelligent people with a pragmatic nature who are always willing to share their knowledge.

 

The way we work and Who we are

WE:

…work with solidly established processes that let you focus on what you do best.

…give everyone a chance to be heard, shape solutions and see their impact.

…maintain a flat hierarchy that values everyone’s contribution and brings out the best in all of us.

…highly value positive energy, diversity and inclusion.

…believe in clear communication and continuous learning.

 

This is you in a nutshell:

DESCRIPTION:

  • – You have at least 4 years of experience in Frontend engineering.
  • – Are able to integrate frontend with Sovrin as a backend
  • – Work very closely with development and business teams and can articulate a long-term vision for maintaining and scaling our frontend projects
  • – Create trustworthy user experiences by building interfaces that are simple, easy to comprehend, performant and reliable
  • – Turn a vision into a tangible development roadmap and keep track of it at all times
  • – Add positive energy to every meeting, and make your coworkers feel included in every interaction.
  • – Translate UI designs, wireframes, and mockups into high-quality, well-tested code
  • – Write clean, maintainable code and testing environments.
  • – Understand frontend development frameworks, including (but not limited to): Java, React.js, Angular.js or Vue.js
  • – Estimate task durations and log project hours and have experience with Scrum/Agile
  • – Are okay with contributing to side projects, such as our corporate websites, UI, performance, etc.

 

We offer

A friendly and modern workplace in the Apollo 14 impact hub of The Hague. We work with one of the largest NGOs in the world, creating the impact needed in the identity space for social and economic inclusion. You will be working with dynamic professionals and ego-free team players who value taking initiative and spearheading development processes. You can count on a competitive salary, creative freedom, and plenty of ways to increase your skills in an inspiring international environment. We also always have international events and trips planned throughout Europe, the U.S. and MENA region, where the core team is usually present; being an early team member makes you core! We are impacting the lives of billions of people, hence changing the meaning of being a “billionaire”!

So are you the next Frontend Billionaire? Please Apply by emailing a resume with a cover letter to: jobs@tykn.tech

 

 

 

The Future of Cash Based Assistance

WHY:

The International Disaster Database records a steady increase in the frequency of natural disasters over the past 35 years. In the past 10 years, the number of people affected by humanitarian crises have almost doubled, whilst the cost of humanitarian assistance has tripled. For this reason, the humanitarian world is undergoing a transformation in the way that aid is delivered. This transformation must not compromise the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality and independence.

Assistance must always reach the most vulnerable. An effective way to support people affected by natural disasters is through a combination of CBA and FBF. FBF allows for both decision-makers and people affected to better prepare for and cope with natural disasters and thus reducing needs when disaster strikes. CBA offers a more efficient and dignified means to deliver assistance, empowers people in need and fosters local economies.

CURRENT CHALLENGES:

However, these CBA programs face multiple challenges. Every disaster type and local context has its unique set of challenges and in turn a unique set of solutions. The scope of the current solutions differ dramatically from high digital connectivity, to that of low or no connectivity. For this reason we started with a common set of parameters that we want to improve on. These can be clustered as:

TIME: Depending on the location, getting cash-based assistance to the most vulnerable can be a slow process. We aim for a system to trigger fund release from anything up to 6 days to 24 hours before a natural disaster strikes (for early warning and early action).

SAFETY: Both Red Cross field staff & volunteers, and the recipients of assistance, are vulnerable due to large amounts of physical cash.

COSTS: International bank transfers, hiring security and in-country logistical challenges creates high costs.

INCLUSIVENESS: Beneficiaries do not always have a proof of identity and are therefore not easily included in humanitarian aid across various humanitarian organizations.

SCALABILITY: Current solutions differ dramatically in each context.

WHO:

510 together with Tykn.tech are exploring the potential of humanitarian aid integrating blockchain in current humanitarian operations.

HOW:

We gathered both teams to meet with a diverse group, including experienced Red Cross cash delegates, system engineers, econometricians and social scientists. Through numerous sessions, we established the current and potential user journeys for all stakeholders. Highlighting challenges of beneficiary registration due to a lack of proof of identity. Incorporating the knowledge of a 150 years of providing humanitarian aid, we look at the social & economic factors that affect the potential technological applications and algorithms that can help identify and ultimately reach the most vulnerable.

WHEN:

The project will conduct a pilot integration in at least one of the current Red Cross operations during 2018.

WHERE:

The ultimate goal is to develop a system that can adapt to any type of disaster in any location. In the interest of scalability, we are exploring two very different local contexts. One with high digital connectivity as with St Maarten, and one with low to no connectivity such as the most vulnerable areas of Malawi.

tykn digital identity management system

510 x Tykn Press Release

510 is exploring the use of Blockchain in Humanitarian Aid with Tykn.tech.

The organization is looking for smarter and more efficient solutions to enhance aid when a natural disaster strikes.

510 and Tykn.tech are researching the potential of blockchain to improve cash based assistance. The organization aims to develop a system with a digital wallet that can be used to transfer money faster to those affected in a disaster area. With this money, those affected can purchase necessities like food, water and other relief goods. Today, the 510 data team of the Netherlands Red Cross and Tykn.tech are announcing their cooperation at The North American Bitcoin Conference in Miami.

In some specific cases, the Red Cross chooses to give money to those affected by a disaster to buy the things they need, like food. This process fosters the local economy, increases the resilience of the affected communities and reduces the need of food parcel distributions.


Safe and Efficient

510 and Tykn.tech are researching how blockchain technology can make cash distributions both safer and more efficient. The use of blockchain can, among other things, reduce the logistical challenges where cash distributions are involved. This makes the situation safer for both Red Cross field staff and those affected by the disaster. In parallel, the use of blockchain has the potential to lower overhead costs and accelerate the aid process. As each digital wallet could be linked to an individual, it would be easier to see who has or has not received aid.

“We know from experience that in some specific cases, giving money instead of relief goods works better. Blockchain could optimize this process. To insure we explore to the fullest, we have chosen to work with Tykn.tech”, says Stefania Giodini, team leader of the 510 data team.

“Because of my experience as a refugee, I know the importance of the responsible use of data in humanitarian aid. Working with 510 ensures we can create a process that meets the needs of those affected.”, says Tey el-Rjula, founder of Tykn.tech.

How and if humanitarian aid can integrate blockchain and what the practical implications will be is currently being researched.

 

St. Maarten

St-Maarten has been heavily affected by hurricane Irma and therefore there are currently many Red Cross projects, both running and planned, that focus on recovery. 510 is building on the learnings of St-Maarten’s unique set of challenges and is investigating the potential of blockchain to positively impact these projects. The ultimate goal is to develop a system that can adapt to any type of disaster in any local context.