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PwC, Onfido join blockchain identity platform uPort

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Yesterday, digital identity firm uPort announced that it has partnered with PwC and Onfido for consumer identities in UK financial services. They hope to use distributed ledger technology (DLT) to combat inefficient client onboarding processes. ConsenSys-backed uPort provides a blockchain platform which allows users to manage their ID, keys, and data on an app.

Global identity verification provider Onfido worked with uPort earlier this year. Both firms were accepted to a regulatory sandbox run by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. Here, they looked at applications of blockchain-based decentralized identities (DiDs) in the fintech sector.

Leading consultancy PwC later joined the tech companies’ efforts, aiming to develop and promote open ecosystems in finance. A vital issue in the sector is the lengthy and expensive vetting of new clients, as they must be checked in line with anti-money laundering and Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations.

DiDs can streamline the onboarding process of new clients thanks to blockchain’s role as a single source of trust. If the firms were to create a decentralized identity system, then a customer’s identity could be securely and quickly verified.

As Onfido’s CEO and co-founder Husayn Kassai put it: “We know the old shared identity ecosystem of centralised models simply no longer works – it doesn’t work for customers because it’s vulnerable to being hacked, nor does it work for businesses since, for example, knowledge-based questions are no longer robust, because of the hacks.”

Kassai continued: “We believe in a world where identity is the key to access and this key should be held only by the customer, but used across multiple businesses to aid access and convenience, faster onboarding without compromising security, and improved KYC and [customer due diligence] processes.”

The portability and interoperability of IDs is a key focus for uPort. Alice Nawfal, the firm’s Strategy and Operations lead, said: “Our view is that consumers will eventually be able to build dynamic, robust financial identities based on data from all financial institutions they have accounts at, and be able to port their identities across service providers.”

Collaborating with PwC, which boasts operations in 158 countries, is a big step for uPort. Two weeks ago, the blockchain firm integrated’s document verification services with its wallet and app. While it is quickly becoming Sovrin’s biggest competitor, uPort will also have to consider IBM’s similar supplier identity initiative.