Identity News

Paypal backed identity firm Cambridge Blockchain is acquired


Today it was announced that Blockchains Management has acquired Cambridge Blockchain, which provides identity solutions. Massachusetts based Cambridge says its offerings aim to put the “control of personal identity data back in the hands of the end-user.” 

It uses blockchain to create hashes or fingerprints of data, which means if the data is shared, someone can verify that the fingerprint matches. Ultimately the solution is about enabling users to re-use information that has already been validated for Know Your Customer (KYC) compliance. For example, if someone provided a passport that was verified, it’s possible to confirm it’s the same passport data.

The personal data is stored in cloud servers controlled by Cambridge Blockchain and it does not claim to be a self-sovereign identity solution. 

The startup has raised $13.3 million to date, according to Crunchbase. Its target market is banks, which ironically the founder of Blockchains LLC is not a fan of. In 2019 Cambridge Blockchain announced a private beta with Luxtrust, which works with various financial institutions such as ING, Banque de Luxembourg and the Luxembourg subsidiary of BNP Paribas.

Blockchains LLC was started by CEO Jeff Berns, a former class action lawyer (Berns Weiss). He claims to have been involved in settlements valued at over $1 billion against the residential mortgage sector. Plus, the firm settled another $1 billion in other sectors, including securities class actions. In a video, Berns says he invested more than $250 million of his own money into Blockchains. 

“One of my fears is the banks – cos you know I love banks – the banks will get together and there will become a default blockchain that they will agree to,” Berns said in the video. “And then they will force their millions of customers to use it. And then that will become the de facto blockchain.”

The acquiror is mainly targeting identity and custody in the public blockchain sector. But it looks like it’s also planning to get into stablecoins and payments with recent staff hires., which focuses on blockchain for IoT was acquired a year ago. It has invested in multiple decommissioned bunkers as digital asset key vaults in the United States and Switzerland. And it bought a large swathe of land in Nevada to build a smart city. Plus, it acquired a bank to help the crypto sector with access to financial services.

The company has a laser focus on public blockchain. “When I look at the internet and I look at what happened. We traded our privacy for free email, we traded control for free games. And those very same companies and entities are now trying to insert themselves into this ecosystem with centralized permissioned blockchains,” said Berns.