Tackling the issue of global identity is a big ask and so we chat with Shiv Aggarwal, CEO of My EarthID on how he plans on doing this massive project.
Tell me first about your career / work prior to MyEarthID – have you always been an entrepreneur?
I am a technologist at heart, with over 14 years of IT industry experience. My expertise lies in defining IT strategy and roadmap, solution designs for large-scale enterprises and integration of heterogeneous systems. I have worked with major blue chip organisations, like Bank of America, The Hartford and Unilever. I have worked across India, UK and US, and that gives me a global outlook.
I come from a business family, so I always imagined that I am an entrepreneur by blood. I always liked tinkering with ideas, but I took my first big step towards entrepreneurship when I incorporated Fumae Consulting in Jan 2015. Since then I have been working on projects of all sizes, with focus on niche areas like Cloud, APIs, DevOps, and now Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies.
I believe the idea of creating MyEarthId is a natural progression of all my experiences thus far.
Why did the blockchain interest you?
As for most of us, I came to know about blockchain and related technologies due to the hype created by Bitcoin. Given my technology background, my interest was not limited to financial gains, and I tried to understand the hypothesis behind Bitcoin and the technology which brought it to life.
The fundamental idea of decentralisation is what attracted me the most. The idea that we don’t really have to trust people or organisations for exchange of value. If you think about it, the world cannot run without trust and rules, as otherwise, it would be utter chaos. However, that doesn’t mean that we need to put the power in the hands of faltering people and organisations. We have technology at our disposal, which can be totally complaint and unbiased.
What are the major challenges facing blockchain projects in your opinion?
As for any new industry, I think there is a lack of awareness and knowledge, which is being exploited either by regulatory bodies, to create baseless fears, or by fraudulent businesses, to cash and dash.
The Blockchain technology itself is in infancy, with much scope for improvement. The way I look at it is that Ford has just launched the Model T, which is all awe-inspiring; however, the Ferraris and Teslas are yet to arrive at the scene.
What do you hope to solve in the identity space?
MyEarthId is working on a mission to simplify the process of Identity Management, through the use of a Universal Identity Platform. Our primary goal is to reduce the identity thefts and frauds, through the power of cryptography and blockchain technology, which will in turn reduce the overall cost and complexity associated with maintaining and validating identities.
The vision of MyEarthId.org is to onboard every Human Being on Earth onto the new Identity Management platform, enabling seamless and hassle-free access to all services – Online and Offline.
Are there security issues by having a universal identity platform – how will prevent hacking?
The biggest challenge with existing Identity Management solutions is that they use a central repository to store the identity information of the customers. A central repository is always prone to hacking, which puts the data of all the customers at risk.
MyEarthID is a decentralised Identity Management platform, which uses latest advancements in mobile, cryptography and blockchain technologies, to safeguard the identity information during storage, as well as transmission.
With MyEarthID platform, the users are always in control of their identity information, and only authorised access is allowed, which is all managed by a simple and secure mobile app. The identity information of the users is stored solely on their mobile devices, protected by the latest encryption algorithms and multifactor authentication, including biometrics. The access of identity information happens over Hashgraph platform, a fourth generation blockchain, which ensures the security during transmission.
What kind of customers / organisations will use your service?
Every industry has to deal with human identity in one way or other. Since we are building a platform to store and validate identity, securely and seamlessly, we think that MyEarthId has a potential to solve identity management problems, across industries. We are already assessing different uses cases including, but not limited to, social platforms, e-commerce, banking and financial institutions, travel & hospitality, utility services, healthcare and visa & immigration.
Why did you decide to go the ICO route?
MyEarthId is quite a big project and requires substantial investment. The traditional route, wherein we get funding from a venture capitalist, is very tiresome and frustrating. We have seen many good projects dying at the hands of institutional greed.
The other option was to go the crowdfunding route. However, we wanted to incentivise our early supporters, by providing them a mechanism to participate in the idea and make financial gains as well. Hence, we chose the ICO route.
An initial coin offering allows us to raise money from retail investors, without losing any control over the direction and vision of the company.
Why do you see decentralisation as key?
As I have mentioned earlier, decentralisation is about not having to put your trust into individuals or central organisations, which can and do fail. Decentralisation ensures that there is no single point of failure in the system.
The same concept applies to identity management as well. A central repository is prone to hacking and puts the confidential data at risk. A decentralised identity system makes hacking extremely difficult, if not impossible. It also dramatically reduces the impact of any hacking attempts, a single user versus millions otherwise.
Are you talking with any government or large identity management organisations?
We are in the early stages of the project, and we are trying to onboard as many leaders and experts from different industries as possible. We are hiring independent experts, to vet our solution, and also help us partner with various organisations, across industries.
At the moment, we are liaising with social and e-commerce platforms, and some SMEs, to pilot our services. It is essential to take small steps, in the right direction, proving the significance and power of the solution we are building.
What is the timeline for your project and what monies do you hope to raise?
We are currently working on the alpha version of our minimum viable product (MVP), which we will launch in a few days. With that, we are looking to kick off the private sale in the 3rd week of July 2018. We are planning to close all the investment rounds, including crowd sale by year-end. During the token sale, our focus will also be on users onboarding, which will help us further test our platform.
We are planning to release the beta version of our platform in February 2019, and the developer kits (SDKs) and partner APIs by June 2019. Thereafter, we will roll out newer versions of the platform and APIs, with additional features, on a periodic basis.
We are expecting to raise 30 million dollars, with a soft target of 2.5 million.