It can be hard to trust information on the internet—at this point, it’s a universal sentiment. It can also be hard to share information on the internet if you can’t trust where it’s going to end up.
We told you a little bit about blockchain technology and the potential for identity records, but how can people and organizations actually start using these innovations in real life? It starts with a network, and ATB has been exploring one such network as the first Canadian steward of Sovrin.
Sovrin is a blockchain network that works by acting as the “middle man” between facts—they accept facts about people or places, as well as the verification from another authorized party that those facts are true and trustworthy. For example, in the future, when we all have digital identity records, you could add your new driver’s license to your records through Sovrin, and the Government of Alberta could verify that it is, in fact, a real and valid license. From there, you could use your identity record anywhere you need to present ID with the simple scan of a QR code.
Beyond the fact that this process would be highly efficient and completely trustworthy, it also adds a new level of security to our lives. Consider the number of times you’ve had to present your ID just to prove that you’re over 18. The person verifying your age, in the process of doing so, has also had access to your full date of birth, your address, your height and weight, etc. Using an identity record would allow a third party to scan a QR code and know—without doubt—that you are over 18, without learning anything else about you.
So why have we become a steward of Sovrin, and what does that actually mean?
Sovrin was founded by Evernym, who quickly realized that in order to truly operate a network of trust, Sovrin needed to be a non-profit organization, separate from any for-profit company. As a foundation with a diverse board of trustees, Sovrin can and does now exist and function without its founding company, and all servers and software required to run the network are provided by stewards for no fee.
We’re incredibly proud to be the first Canadian steward, and it’s our goal to be the first bank in North America to offer our customers digital identity records. Of course, there are many challenges associated with that goal. As leaders in innovation, ATB gets involved in these sorts of explorations very early on. Sovrin may not be the end all, be all solution, but it’s a strong solution and it’s allowing us to move forward, which is the direction we’re always looking to go.
Being innovators often also presents the challenge of working in a space without a lot of groundwork or foundation. How do we introduce digital identity records to the mass market? How do we ensure our customers feel comfortable and eager to adopt them? And how to we encourage and foster other companies and organizations to start working with digital wallets and a blockchain network? We’ve taken all of these questions and thrown them into our sandbox environment, where we’re doing a lot of internal testing. We expect this project to go through countless iterations throughout 2018 so that we can make sure the many complexities of the system are dealt with and fully understood before we roll it out.
We're always looking for great people to join us on our journey. Explore our open positions with the ATB transformation team here.