A lot of hype exists about the possibilities using blockchain technology. Almost everyone I talk to wants to know what use cases are being actively worked on. Take identity management for example. We have faced identity management challenges since the dawn of the Internet. Prime among them: security, privacy, and usability. Because people have to send payment credentials to each credit card merchant they use, credit card theft and transaction fraud has been increasing each year. In 2014, fraud cost U.S. retailers $32 billion, according to a LexisNexis report. While protocols like 3-D Secure were created to increase security for online credit and debit transactions, they have not been widely adopted and face many security issues that affect the consumer. In terms of privacy, why do we have to show a driver license in order to buy alcohol if all that is needed is a birthdate? If we’re shopping on our mobile phones, how can we selectively share our identification details?
One of BlockCypher’s customers, ShoCard, saw these challenges and sought to quickly bring a solution to market using blockchain technology. But Shocard needed a way to quickly experiment. It could have taken them months to test a small number of ideas using blockchain technology and they would have wasted a lot of development time, increasing costs and risk. After developing an application, they still would have required an infrastructure that could scale for enterprise use.
Instead, ShoCard focused on creating an innovative, mobile identity management solution using BlockCypher’s blockchain infrastructure. Using BlockCypher’s API services and sandbox test blockchain (BCY), ShoCard was able to experiment quickly, learn, and test many new blockchain identity ideas.
As a result, ShoCard created an identity management application that uses public/private key encryption and data hashing to safely store and exchange identity data. This identity data includes biometrics like fingerprints, facial maps, iris patterns, and voice. Through the ShoCard application, a person manages and carries her identity data on her mobile phone. This person is the only person who determines which identification details are shared. ShoCard uses the blockchain as a public, immutable ledger that allows third parties to validate that the original data or certification has not been changed or misrepresented. The validation process consists of cryptographic operations that can be performed by SDKs from ShoCard or third parties.
ShoCard uses the BlockCypher Transaction API to publish identity data to the Bitcoin and other blockchains. ShoCard also uses BlockCypher to immediately scale for production, with the support and over 99.99+% uptime required for a 24×7 operation.
By using BlockCypher, the ShoCard development team saved 6 months of ramp up time and 35% development time. The BlockCypher blockchain infrastructure gave them a shorter development cycle, increased network reliability and improved code maintenance. BlockCypher also greatly increased the security and scalability of their identity management applications. Due to BlockCypher’s multiple datacenters and dedicated teams, customers have the security and response times they need.
While Bitcoin has the benefit of being the most secure public blockchain, Ethereum is by far the most extensible. With BlockCypher’s consistent implementation across both Bitcoin and Ethereum, identity management applications will be able to seamlessly interact with both blockchains. These applications could transfer certain components of identity without revealing others or provide advanced progressive transparency schemes for identity escrow.
A proven blockchain platform, BlockCypher supports over 2 million api calls per day for customers around the world. BlockCypher completely re-architected its blockchain infrastructure to fit the specific needs of reliable enterprise deployments. Historically, blockchain software has been written to run on simple desktops. In contrast, BlockCypher’s solution is modular, scales linearly, has no single point of failures and runs in a secure environment. As a result, hundreds of developers have been using the platform for years. On top of this secure, scalable and proven infrastructure, ShoCard’s identity management application minimizes fraud, as there is no privately held central location that holds the user’s private information. To further increase security, all identification details do not need to be shared with other services in order to authenticate or prove ownership of an account. As a mobile application, ShoCard is designed to be easy to be use, yet secure enough for a bank.
ShoCard customers include SITA, banks and financial services companies. The banks, including the third largest bank in Canada, and financial services companies are using ShoCard to authorize identity with facial recognition, secure credit card transactions, and authenticate call center, money transfers and user credentials. In the call center authentication use case, customer care groups authenticate customers in seconds, rather than going a long series of questions. ShoCard has been working with SITA, an IT and communication services to the global airline industry and owned by a broad network of major air travel service providers, accounting for roughly 90% of all airlines. ShoCard has created an application that travelers can access anywhere and will generate a token with all their travel documents. In this way, airport and border protection staff can retrieve passport, visa, and biometrics details without having to deal with all the paperwork and documents. And travelers won’t have the hassle of bringing all the paperwork and documents with them.
The ShoCard — BlockCypher partnership is a great example of companies working together to provide a better solution by specializing in what each team does well. BlockCypher provides the robust infrastructure that scales and enables rapid development. And ShoCard provides an intuitive, secure application people can easily use. In these exciting times when companies are struggling to figure out where to start with blockchain, we’ll be seeing more of these partnerships.