What is peer-to-peer verified identity and why does it matter? Let’s start by defining what verified identity means and then review why it’s important in the peer-to-peer Internet.
What is Verified Identity?
Verified identity is what results from “identity proofing,” the process of verifying a user’s identity — confirming that they are who they say they are. This may sound like ordinary authentication based on username and password, but identity proofing typically comes into play before users get their credentials to even access an application or receive a service.
It’s typically used by businesses to prevent fraud or to increase trust on their platform, businesses which have a KYC (Know Your Customer) requirement, or government entities which require a verified identity to access services. There are several ways to verify an individual’s identity claim, including biometrics and extracting data from a passport, driver’s license, or government ID card.
Peer-to-Peer vs. Enterprise Verified Identity
To date, identity proofing has mostly been used by institutions — mainly businesses and governments. Billions of identities are proofed each month by a broad range of service providers who seek to mitigate online fraud and counter identity theft. These services are used by the enterprise to gate consumers’ access to their applications — they’re almost entirely business to consumer.
In fact, there isn’t a platform specifically designed for the peer-to-peer market that affords consumers access the same advanced identity verification tools and technology. Consumers are largely left to their own devices, reliant on the platform they are using to ensure their safety.
Yet there are powerful reasons why such a platform should exist and how it would benefit consumers. A few of these are noted below.
Increase Online Safety: Remove Stranger Danger
Bad things happen on the Internet under the guise of anonymity. I’m going to spare you the daily dose of death and dismemberment that comes across my desk but suffice it to say that everyday someone is getting catfished, scammed, or even worse, on platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or Tinder. None of these sites require identity verification, and as a result, they can become a haven for bad actors with malevolent intent.
Having said that, it’s understandable that businesses seek to optimize their economic objectives. Facebook, for example, has 2.8 billion users, which drives their advertising business. Yet according to Statista, they deleted 1.3 billion fake accounts in the first quarter of 2021 alone. Many of these were bots trying to impersonate a real person.
A stand-alone identity verification platform that can be easily used by consumers across all sites could help solve this problem. It would increase online safety, effectively remove catfishing, and guard against fraud in buyer-seller transactions.
We’ve come to rely on a range of federated logins — login with Facebook, login with Google, or login with your Apple ID. While this has made it easy to access sites, it’s done nothing to increase online safety and propagate the idea that identity matters. A simple solution here is a platform that allows for federated login using verified identity.
Accelerate the Growth of the P2P Internet and Sharing Economy
A trust shift is underway. As a society, trust is shifting away from institutions like businesses and governments and is being distributed horizontally to our fellow human beings. The growth of the sharing economy is a textbook example of this. Consider the fact that Uber is the world’s largest taxi company and owns no vehicles, Facebook is the world’s most popular media company and creates no content, and Airbnb is the world’s largest accommodation provider and owns no real estate. Consumers, and their reliance on one another, is powering the sharing economy and collaborative consumption. Its estimated that by 2025, this will be a $350 billion market!
As trust gets distributed horizontally and we have more interactions with people we don’t know, building trust online becomes more important than ever before. In this context, establishing verified identity is the sine qua non — the essential condition — for establishing trust among peers.
As verified identity takes hold (over anonymity), the peer-to-peer Internet will flourish and it will open the door for a range of new online interactions, business models, and collaborative consumption.
As a side note, if you’re interested in sustainability, then more efficiently using resources is likely top of mind. If this is the case and you believe that collaborative consumption models are part of the solution to sustainability, then you should immediately see the importance of verified identity, which is an important requirement for sharing resources among our fellow humans.
Deepen Human Connections
Human connections are diminished when identity is a question mark. Am I dealing with a real person, or is the person on the other side of this network connection a bot, deep fake, or huckster with a fake account?
There’s no way that the human connections and the trust required to power the next wave of Internet innovation — which I would argue is going to come from the connections we make among our fellow peers — can be driven by anything less than the secure knowledge that you’re dealing with a verified person.
Facebook crunched their social graph and determined that we’re all now separated by 3.57 degrees of separation. The paradox is that we’re more connected yet feel more isolated.
Verified identity is part of the solution. If we lift the veil of anonymity, likely our “connections” will act more humane. Idris Elba, the talented British actor, writer, producer, and rapper was eloquent on this exact point, noting:
“If cowards are being supported by a veil of privacy and secrecy, then social media is not a safe place. If cowards want to spout racial rhetoric, then say it with you name, not your username.”
Dentity allows you to create and share a verified identity profile. It’s a universal trust system for all your online activity. Stay tuned, we are rolling out soon. In the meantime, join our waiting list so you can be first in line. You can join our waitlist HERE!