This interview was originally done for the Bitcoin Podcast by CCN. Check out the original interview and let us know what you think!
This week, I spoke with Bridge CEO Stephen Hyduchak. I first learned about Bridge earlier this year while attending Cryptolina and have been intrigued by the concept of applying zero-knowledge proofs to identity access management functions ever since. The basic concept behind Bridge can be summed up by one unfortunate story Stephen shared with me. One night in Canada, a young woman was trying to get into a night club. Of course, she had to show her ID to get into the night club. The bouncer used the information on her ID to track her down and physically assault her.
Bridge asks the question: why did the bouncer need to know anything other than the fact that she was of age? The bouncer does not need the woman’s name, height, or — in some instances in the United States — Social Security Number. He doesn’t even need to know her exact date of birth. All he needs to do is be able to answer one narrow question: “Is this woman of the legal drinking age?”
Bridge thinks the solution is simple. Have the woman show the bouncer a public key. He can use an app on his phone to verify the woman is older than the legal drinking age, and the woman can then be let into the bar. This story is, of course, just an example of what Bridge can do and not something that it’s doing right now. But it’s a real-world scenario that shows a practical use case for zero-knowledge proofs in the identity access management space and how the application of this technology can have practical benefits in the protection of peoples identities.
Perhaps a more practical example of Bridge, at least in the short term, and something closer to home for cryptocurrency users, is Know Your Customer (KYC). A good example of this is the identity verification process Coinbase makes users go through when upgrading the amount of crypto they can have in their account. At each stage, they require more and more forms of identification. From a driver’s license to a passport to a LinkedIn or bank account, the stakes of a data breach go up each time.
The problem is multiplied by the fact that most crypto exchanges require this kind of verification. That means every exchange also has a copy of your data and can be breached as well. Even worse than this is the accredited investor requirement. Many ICOs will check investors for accreditation by themselves. What this means is a very active angel investor can have sensitive financial information resting in dozens of different startups servers. This is a recipe for disaster and has definitely proven an issue for Hyduchak, whose identity has been breached before.
Bridge hopes to solve the KYC issues specifically with the recent launch of its MVP and the TOLL token. To do this, they’ve partnered with identity verification firm Onfido, whose clients include the likes of ZipCar, Couchsurfing.com, and Uber. They also work with plenty of crypto companies such as Revolut, Square, and Bitstamp. The hope for Hyduchak is that in the future as more exchanges go up in the future, especially in decentralized exchanges they’ll turn to Bridge for their KYC requirements.
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