New Identity Management for the Enterprise and Consumers with Blockchain Technology

Sphre Launches Air - a Platform for Digital Identity and Individual Microeconomic Engagement

Tell us about the moment which inspired the AIR concept?

Daren Seymour, CEO of Sphre (pronounced: ‘sphere’): It occurred to me that suddenly, we had a viable technology in blockchain that could solve the digital identity challenge for both enterprises and individuals, and further enhance the potential for privacy, personal wealth creation, societal and financial inclusiveness that currently elude billions of people. It may be a somewhat utopian view; but, I want us to build a fairer internet. The current system requires individuals to share their identity data with a myriad of companies and corporations for free, and in many cases this data is commercially exploited for corporate benefit. It is our intention to disrupt this paradigm by placing the value of an individual’s identity in their own hands, whilst increasing their privacy and security. Please don’t misunderstand me, I fully understand that companies and corporations need to make money for their owners and shareholders, but there must be a fairer system going forward.

Some would argue that the exploitation of data, is what keeps the internet “free” for everyone to use.

Seymour: I think it's important to not confuse the use of identity data for the financial benefit of large organisations with the free use of the internet. Yes, it enables companies like Google and Facebook to provide a service without charging for membership, but the inequity lies in the fact that large profits are made from a given individual's personal data and none of this is then returned back to the source of this value, We aim to address this imbalance by giving some of this value back, and expect to see more, and not less companies engaging in Internet based activities as more and more people will be able to engage in the digital economy, due to the ability to control and self monetise their personal data for their own benefit.

Was there a specific moment that triggered the desire to build AIR?

Seymour: I think it was realising the full potential of blockchain within the digital identity arena and how we could allow individuals to control and commercialise their identity data for their own benefit, this was a paradigm changing moment! In an increasingly digital society, personal data has become a new form of currency. The biggest challenge for our leaders today in my view is to establish the trust that enables that currency to flow, and our aim is quite simply to facilitate this for consumers and enterprises.

Air, Logo-2 (1).jpg

Who will be the target market for AIR?

Seymour: From an end-consumer perspective, I think the Air product has true scale for everyone in the age range of 8-80, particularly when you consider that most people have little idea what happens to their personal data, with only 30% having a relatively comprehensive understanding of whom is collecting and using their information, and that just 10% of people have ever taken privacy-protecting actions to secure their identity and personal data online. Our aim is to market a product that is almost implicit in nature as possible, but providing absolute peace of mind in terms of security and privacy. However, the millennial generation I think would be considered as ‘early adopters’ of our end-consumer product, partially due to their ‘digital native’ aesthetic, and our novel approach to attention based economics. This demographic is also interesting as they have the concept of the ‘personal brand’, and like any brand, it should be able to capitalise on its Intellectual Property, e.g. the individual and their associated data in the AIR products use case.

As a consumer, when and how will I be able to sign up for an Air Identity?

Seymour:  We expect the AIR Platform to be fully operational by September 2017.

So, I receive money for just being me every time I use the AIR system?

Seymour:  Yes. Every time you use your AIR digital identity to complete an identity based transaction you will receive a micropayment to your app integrated wallet in our native token, called XID. I mentioned earlier about Attention Economics, once you have received the payment, we will share some content with you via the app, and based on your stated areas of interest. For example, if one of your stated interests is personal fitness, then we may send you some short time limited content about sneakers, in this way, you are receiving compensation for your attention, and this is in line with what I mentioning earlier, regarding a fairer Internet, wealth distribution and consumer engagement in the digital economy.

Of course, the above also has advantages for organisations and companies that would like to reach consumers with their goods and services, but can’t as more and more people are turning to Ad Blocking due to non-targeted and annoying content delivery, but again it is our aim is to ensure that the content shared is very specific to the consumer’s interests, and is very short in nature.

So, AIR is a Consumer product, or an Enterprise product?

Seymour:  It’s both, our core Air Platform is an enterprise based solution that can help companies remove friction in their AML/KYC processes. We are building our end-consumer application to really highlight the true potential of the underlying system.

As a banker or lender, how can my financial institution benefit from using Air. Or differently say, why would I deploy my developer resources to run an Air pilot?

Seymour:  The Air Platform provides a great many benefits towards the enterprise, the primary benefit being the decrease in intercompany process friction, particularly for Know Your Customer (KYC) activities, where departments can review a single set of customer data and attest to this data within a single process stream. Due to the cryptographically highly secured nature of the given customer's identity, Information Technology systems can also be greatly simplified from an infrastructure portfolio perspective.

Please tell us more about the AIR Crowdsale.

Seymour: We are very excited to launch the Air Crowdsale, that will run from 19 April-29 May 2017, and will enable us to work directly with the blockchain community on this important project. Our Crowdsale website is launched (www.sphre.co/cs) where you can find out all the details regarding the project, its deliverables. The sole aim of the Crowdsale is to enable us to complete what we think is a paradigm shifting product, and to contribute to the future of a fairer Internet, and of course help companies and corporations reduce enterprise friction and streamline their operational processes.

Finally, a more general question, how do you see technology in the future, and the possible impact on society in general?

Seymour: There is of course a myriad of topics. However, I think the rise of automation and the inevitable implementation of Universal Basic Income is a key topic for society. If we imagine a world where most jobs are automated, and therefore most jobs no longer exist, then how can an individual increase their personal wealth? This is one of the areas that we are exploring with our AIR product, that being the enablement of an individual to monetise their personal data for their own financial benefit.

Another interesting area is ‘Automated Trust Verification’. An example of this is that today, I leave my home and I trust myself to drive my car to my destination, but in the future an Artificial Intelligence will drive my car for me, but how do I know that I can trust my car to deliver me safely, should I rely on implicit trust as in effect, my car will make all driving decisions and is therefore an ‘identity’? This is where blockchain technology will enable me to independently verify my car's safety history, and not just my car, but every car of the same type, to ensure that my car is not being driven by HAL from the film 2001. I see such systems as increasingly important as more and more Artificial Intelligence based entities enter our lives.

The Air Platform can secure the Internet of things and prevent “hijacking” car rides?

Seymour: Yes, we are currently investigating this topic via our IoT program (called CTRL) in regards to car disablement leveraging and AIR Platform identity and associated attributes.

How are you going to generate revenue?

Seymour: For Enterprise, this will be achieved via tiered licensing agreements, dependant on the size and type of Enterprise.

For Consumer, this will be achieved via targeted content delivery post completion of an identity transaction using the AIR Platform.

If I understand the concept correctly, you will have to take on ID services from Facebook, Google and Microsoft. What makes them confident that is possible?

Seymour: We do not feel that we are competing with Titans such as Google and Facebook in a conventional way. Our intention is to do something completely different and provide a decentralised method of identity management that removes people from the paradigm of passive involvement and agreement due to the divided nature of the various solutions and policies so far implemented. Most users of Facebook and Google are unaware when their identity data is being used and for what purpose, and that it is of great value to these organisations (and also to other bad actors). To extend the Titan metaphor, we aim to be Prometheus who stole the fire from the Titans and gave it to mankind. We want people to receive compensation for their participation and use of the AIR Platform, and we feel that this concept is so manifestly fair that it will really sell itself.

Website: http://www.sphre.co/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sphreco

LinkeIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daren-seymour-714942/


More Stories By Xenia von Wedel

Xenia von Wedel is a Tech blogger and Enterprise Media Consultant in Silicon Valley and Paris, serving clients in a variety of industries worldwide. She is focused on thought leadership content creation and syndication, media outreach and strategy. She mainly writes about Blockchain, Enterprise, B2B solutions, social media and open source software, but throws the occasional oddball into the mix. Tip her if you like her articles: http://xeniar.tip.me

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