Static Identity is Dead – Hello Fluid Identity

By Patrick Hearn

In the past 2 weeks, both Forbes and National Public Radio published on BanQu ( BanQu is a fascinating provider of financial inclusion and digital identity. It has managed to combine the use of BlockChain and mobile enrollment to specifically focus on onboarding the poor and displaced into the digital economy and away from the grey market.

What is interesting about this organization is it accomplishes 2 things. First it is the ability to have a portable, fluid way to assert yourself into the economy without needing legacy “Big Credit” information providers. Second its focus on transactions, your transactions, is a way to establish yourself as unique. In short, it is your virtual identity.

While Forbes and National Public Radio focused on BanQu, an interesting meeting took place in Washington DC in the Rayburn Building (where many Congressman have their offices). It was the release of a report entitled “Better Identity in America – A Blueprint for Policymakers”.

The report, a combination of work done by Morgan Stanley, Aetna, MasterCard, AARP and other leading organizations listed 5 key initiatives for policymakers: 1. Prioritize the development of Next-Generation Identity Proofing and Verification Systems, 2. Change the way America uses the Social Security Number, 3. Promote and prioritize the use of strong authentication, 4. Pursue international coordination and harmonization and 5. Educate consumers and businesses about better identity.

The last few paragraphs show how identity is viewed in very different terms within and outside the United States. In the example of BanQu, the focus of identity, is designed specifically drive economic growth and inclusion through activity. The Better Identity Coalition focuses on improving security to American citizens and public/private organizations from loss.

Yet, these two parallel concepts need a reconciliation. While security is front of mind with the latest focus on minimizing the role of synthetic identity, what is equally important is to show how digital identity is in fact an economic driver of efficiency and growth into the next decade. The reconciliation comes from recognizing a basic principle. Digital Identity is alive and fluid; static identity is dead.

Our global economy quite simply moves too fast for static identity. Credit histories often not accurate, public records are dated and the general principle of looking back to look forward is almost counter-intuitive in a world where it is really easy to combine real and fake information. 

In the US the latest standards on digital identity (published literally last month) are already dated in a world of continuous authentication. This is not to say static identity plays no role but it is time to kill static identity as the "driver" in a global economy that is by definition transactional. The way to do this. Show how fluid digital identity drives economic growth. Stay Tuned!!

Patrick Hearn