Digital ID scheme a ‘game-changer’

  • Data management: Bruce Silcoff, CEO of digital asset firm Shyft (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Form and grow: Stuart Lacey, founder and CEO of Trunomi (File photograph)

A digitised national identity scheme planned for Bermuda could be used by millions of people worldwide, a leader of the project said yesterday.

Bruce Silcoff, the chief executive of blockchain technology firm Shyft, said three jurisdictions were keeping a close eye on the plan designed to protect island residents from attacks on their personal information.

He added: “It’s proof of concept, it’s a test market because it’s small enough to run a pilot.

“This is a perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate the feasibility and the benefits of this new platform in an environment where it’s easier to have necessary legislation written quickly, where it’s conducive in terms of industry.

“We’re baking a cake and we have all the ingredients right here at our fingertips.”

Mr Silcoff said Shyft had teamed up with Bermudian-based data management technology company Trunomi to deliver a scheme to give people control over their own records, which would mean only they could allow access to organisations like the Government and banks.

Mr Silcoff, who was in Bermuda for talks with Stuart Lacey, the founder and CEO of Trunomi, said the island was well placed to be used as a testing ground for his firm’s “electronic highway”.

He added: “It’s putting this whole country on an electronic ID platform, Perseid, which stands for personal e-ID.

“We’ve already made a $1 million investment into that project and that is a sandbox for the planet.

“We already have three other jurisdictions in this world watching what Bermuda is doing.

“When this goes live and we demonstrate that it works, those other jurisdictions will leverage Bermuda’s technology. Bermuda will be able to sell that expertise, we call it ‘jurisdiction as a service’.

“Bermuda will be able to license their model to the rest of the world, which is game-changing.”

Mr Silcoff declined to identify the jurisdictions interested in the Bermuda venture, but said they represented 110 million people “across the world”.

He hoped the optional identity scheme, to be introduced in partnership with the Government, will enter its first phase in Bermuda by autumn.

Mr Silcoff said: “It is the opportunity to give people better control of their own data through a strong consent framework and privacy protection.

“For someone to be able to access your data, you will have to permission it, but the beauty is you could share that information more efficiently.”

The Toronto-based entrepreneur said banks, hospitals, government agencies, telecoms and insurance companies could all be linked to the system, which would help people save time and money when using their services.

He added it would give customers the power to transfer relevant information to chosen organisations, which would cut down on administration costs. Mr Silcoff said the Perseid system does not hold the information, but instead is a “highway” for entities to share information across businesses, industries and international borders.

Mr Silcoff explained that “decentralising” data reduced the threat of it being accessed unlawfully.

He added: “If you’re a bank with $1 billion, that’s attractive for a thief to go after.

“But if you have a dollar in a billion different banks, it’s not worth the trouble to go after it.”

Mr Silcoff added: “People will have better protection, better security and the individual who is the rightful owner of that data will control that data.

“That is critical to proper data management.”

Mr Silcoff claimed it was “naive” for people to think their private information was not at risk and said 7.2 million records are compromised every day, with 69 per cent of those related to personal information.

The businessman claimed Estonia and India had “failed” in their attempts to produce something similar to Perseid.

Mr Silcoff said: “I cannot let this fail because this is too important, not only for Bermuda but for what it means to the rest of the world as well.”

Mr Lacey highlighted that Perseid will operate on an “opt-in” basis when it is introduced.

He added: “There is no sense of Big Brother, rather full trust and transparency as each and every individual maintains full control and ownership of their own identity and personal data.”