Building Trust with Digital Identity and Blockchain

Posted May 4, 2018

In this episode Frank is joined by Mark Lynd, Managing Partner of Relevant Track. They discuss the convergence of digital identity, blockchain and crypto in building trust on the internet.


Frank:   Hey everybody. Welcome to another edition of Digital Identity 360. We’re so excited to have Mark Lynd here. He is the Director of Relevant Track, a luminary in our business, in crypto and security. So Mark, welcome aboard. Happy to have you today.

Mark:   Thank you Frank. I appreciate it. I’m looking forward to it.

Frank:   Awesome. You know Mark in prep for the show, you and I were talking a little bit about some of the things you’re seeing in the industry and obviously you get out there and touch a lot of customers and see a lot of what is happening in our world. But I wanted to kind of get your sense of, as you kind of see the confluence of technology, the blockchain, crypto and cyber threats. What’s your view of identity and how identity begins to fit into that picture?

Mark:   Yeah. It’s a really interesting in the marketplace today because just like you said, there really is a convergence of these technologies and more and more I’m seeing especially when you start to look at identity and security, facial recognition, those type of things that are all wrapped in kind of the security area. You’re seeing people using machine learning and AI, or AI with machine learning and even deep learning, and tying that in with blockchain now to provide a more secure set of solutions to offer their customers. Customers are asking and being fairly aggressive about what are you doing around AI. Is there a way for us to be more secure? Can we confirm identities? Can we avoid fake news? Things like that. So there really is a convergence. I’m not really seeing just one technology but really a melding of many technologies. It’s a really interesting time.

Frank:   Yeah, it’s interesting as I think more and more of these threats materialize, you get into a world where look the bad guys are incredibly smart, they’re well funded, they’re prepared. And to some degree it’s kind of an arms race. They adapt. We adapt, and so on and so forth. And I think the other thing I find interesting about your background, you and I talked about this yesterday, is the blockchain really doesn’t exist without the ability to authenticate something because it can’t change. This is a very for all of the, everything else to say about it, it’s not very fault tolerant once the data’s in. So we agree I think it’s interesting. So what are you seeing in terms of proliferating AI within your customer base?

Mark:   Well, interestingly I speak for, I go out and I do a lot of speaking engagements and oftentimes I talk about building trust, right? And ultimately if you get down to the bottom of identity, if you look at some of the security pieces, if you look at avoiding spoofing, those types of things that are kind of taking place in the marketplace it comes down to building trust. With AI you’re able to look at a much broader base whether it could be logs, whether it’d be looking at transactions, whatever it may be. Since you can look at larger groups and then use these algorithms to look through those and identify anomalies or things that need further look at then really that kind helps with that. Because trying to do that solely by humans or even with some form of human interaction other than at the end would be almost impossible. I think, for example your business, I know you do, may do, tens of hundreds of millions of transactions a day. Well, how would you possibly do that without some way to do that to augment the human aspect.

Frank:   And think about it Mark — you’re so right — if you think of the world that we live in where only three things can happen on a transaction, right? I accept it, I reject it. And where the killer problem is when you have to review it. Because to your point, if I haven’t gotten the machines, the identity, the global network to really authenticate if Mark is really Mark, now some human being has got to jump on a keyboard and has got to work that problem then it’s unbelievably expensive. So what we see in our customer base and perhaps you see it in yours as well is that the operational cost and impact of the review cycles create two problems. Number one unnecessary friction on the customer. So the customer is a little aggravated because you know I’m going through a root canal. And then number two enormous amounts of cost that ultimately in most cases wind up being good transactions anyway it’s just that for whatever reason you had to review them manually because our risk appetite was lower etc. So are you seeing that same kind of operational benefit as you deploy technology?

Mark:   Yeah, I am but and really I think it comes down to confidence. A lot of people though have two, three, four, security solutions they’ll tie it in their monitoring, all these other things that they may have that are part of their network or platform. Ultimately if they don’t have confidence that what they’re seeing and the actions that they’re taking to avoid security incidents and creating more risk. I’m sorry trying to downgrade the risk. Well, you’re going to run into problems and inevitably that trust, that confidence that the solutions I’m using, the human interaction when it does come into play is looking at a highly summarized version of that in able to confidently take those actions and to keep the corporation, the organization, the enterprise safe and secure so it can conduct business and support growth. Without those, and then that’s what I see, it’s interesting every time I talk to different officers, or different people within the C-Suite they have different concerns, right, around security. If they’re a CFO, their concerns are how do we do this and mitigate risk but also do it in a way that we can build it into our plan and it’ll support our growth objectives. Where maybe people in IT are solely, the CIO, CTO, they’re just thinking about it as like almost brute force. Well, let’s just put another layer in. Let’s just add another layer.

Frank:   That’s right.

Mark:   Until we stop the bleeding. So that’s the kind of things I’m seeing from my customer base. But the great part about it is most of these vendor offerings are maturing now, and they’ve evolved to a point where people can take advantage of AI, blockchain, these other items,

Frank:   That’s right.

Mark:   that really build the confidence.

Frank:   Yeah, interestingly, and by the way you mentioned the word trust a lot, and we agree. I mean the whole game is trust. You know we’re fond of saying here that the only online currency that really matters is trust because if Mark is Mark then Mark can find a payment method, and we’ll work with it. But what I find interesting, and you’re so right, at the C-Suite, the enterprise level, we’ve been doing a lot of work now in understanding IAM services, right? The great panacea is I’ve got federated identity single sign-on across all my applications in the enterprise. And I kind of look at the world and go it’s very interesting as long as it’s not spoofable. And the idea of bringing identity behind the firewall because guess what? Frank’s a good employee until he’s not, right? I’ve got to go truck and ride, what I’m doing, and then one day I’m not a good employee. And so I think the idea of combining technologies you’ve just mentioned, trust, a global identity or perspective of somebody out in the wild that’s then somehow translated behind, you know, into the firewall, into a SIM or something, so you can be predictable, really creates this all encompassing view of can I trust Frank in all his permutations both outside the enterprise and beyond the enterprise. We agree with you a hundred percent. It really is, different C-Suite members with different imperatives but ultimately as I said Frank’s a good employee until he’s not, and then that’s when the wheels come off.

Mark:   Right.

Frank:   Really interesting. Hey, the other thing Mark, you and I talked about which was super interesting yesterday was some of the very unique applications you’re seeing in blockchain. Maybe you can fill us in on a couple things you’ve seen that are different.

Mark:   Yeah, two come to mind right off the bat. One is with there’s so much pop culture surrounding fake news, right? People are using it now as a joke and they pan it and all that. But indeed it really is a problem for many organizations and if you think in just the crypto world alone because there’s already volatility in tokens and crypto itself, it’s a big problem. If John McAfee even sneezes

Frank:   Yeah.

Mark:   something goes up or down depending what it is, and then he got spoofed, right? And he apologized for that, and all that. But the reality is that the news coming out nobody really knows. There’s a company called Hade Technologies out there that is using both machine learning and the blockchain and they’re going to be confirming the identity, right? There’s going to confirm the source, where the news comes from. So that when people get the news … And they provide research around stock and crypto, they’ll know that the news coming out on that is actual real news and we’ve seen that over the last two years. I mean there are incidents that are widely, wildly known you know where the news came out. It wasn’t right, or a Kardashian said something about they didn’t like Snapchat. It went up and down.

Frank:   That’s right.

Mark:   You know we don’t even know if that was even real, right? And people come back … I think that is one really unique, and the other one is just in true identity.

Frank:   Interesting.

Mark:   There’s a company right now that’s really just focusing on identity using the blockchain. And like you said and mentioned earlier it’s very immutable, right? So you’re not gonna be able to go back and change that.

Frank:   That’s right.

Mark:   But the way they’re looking at it is every additional transaction that has unique information that they can verify comes from that one identity builds a case for that person when they’re trying to communicate to the rest of the people. Now this is for a social application which makes it really interesting, right? Because we know some of the social channels are struggling. And part of that is around identity, around spamming, fake news, all that. So I’m seeing a lot of traction out there where these younger kind of emerging companies are really spending their time using blockchain for something it’s really, really good at. And that is being to have immutable transactions, especially where it might be to identity or fake news, confirming sources, those type of things, it’s really strong.

Frank:   Yeah, it’s interesting, and by the way, cool applications, but I think some point that I take away from that that’s very interesting to me is this idea about trust by virtue of transactional history. You’re right every single new bit of information is really how we power our global engine by the way. I mean we worry about who you are in all your permutations, how you interact with the digital world, you know machine or phone etc. But equally importantly how are you behaving in real time and I think you’re right that amalgam of behavior, attributes, transactional attributes really strengthens the chain if you will because now I can have more and more trust on that identity as it goes through.

Mark:   You know interestingly, interesting Frank, there is one of the largest shipping companies in the world, I was talking to the President of their company, he’s also runs the operations of the company. He was telling me that they’re using blockchain for multi-manifests, multi-logistical issues they have because they have smaller companies that may do parts of the logistics piece and when they do that it’s really important that they know who they’re talking to. So if they write that there’s a series of transactions they can do that.

Frank:   Yeah, very cool. Well, Mark we could do this all day and we’re super delighted. Obviously guys you got Mark who’s a luminary in this field. Reach him at Relevant Track a fantastic place to connect with Mark. Mark super delighted and honored that you joined us and for our folks out there stay tuned for our next episode. Mark, thanks very much.

Mark:   Thank you, Frank. I really appreciate it. Have a great day.

Frank:   My pleasure and have a great day. Bye.

Mark:   Bye-bye.

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