Category : Blockchain , Technology

Peoplechain — an Abstract Introduction!

Peoplechain — an Abstract Introduction!

Peoplechain — Professional Life on Distributed Ledger — an Abstract Introduction!

It’s important to understand that the movement of money is more important than money itself.

Value comes from Movement.

  1. Value of a particle comes from the movement of electrons taking quantum leaps between orbits of different energy levels.
  2. Value of a person in a professional context is determined not just by the quantity of money moved but at the rate at which she can facilitate this movement possible.
  3. Value of a company comes from mastering the movement of money from its consumers’ ledgers to its ledger by solving a problem for them.
  4. Value of a country is derived from the velocity of circulation of money units. which is measured by dividing the GDP by the country’s total money supply. A high velocity of circulation in a country indicates a high degree of inflation. It helps in determining how vigorous a country’s economy is.
  5. Value of the observable universe is determined by the rate at which its expanding.

You see, right from the quantum particles to the entire known universe, movement determines the value.

What does it mean to us?

Bitcoin and Blockchain are the catalysts to this movement in our current society. Accelerated Motion. This might very well be the human civilization’s escape velocity provided we understand and respect the real power of it and not give into the fads.

#Peoplechain — #blockchain powered professional life — will be our small contribution to this catalysis.

Category : Blockchain , Technology

Blockchain based Aadhaar – #NationalIdentity

Blockchain based Aadhaar – #NationalIdentity

By now almost everyone in the world is aware of India’s Aadhaar system, the Unique Identifier System that came into existence out of noble intentions but limitations of technology forced them to choose a centralized way of designing and implementing it.

This post is not about how flawed the Aadhar system is or the policy implications of data privacy and surveillance, but an optimistic projection into the future of such identity systems across the globe.


Post Structure

  • What is Aadhaar & UIDAI
  • Why is Aadhaar / Unique National Identity Important
  • Implementation of Aadhaar — Primer
  • Cost of Aadhaar Implementation
  • Criticisms against Aadhaar
  • Way Forward

What is Aadhaar & UIDAI

Aadhaar (meaning ‘Foundation’ in English) is a 12-digit unique identity number that can be obtained by residents of India, based on their biometric (iris and finger prints) and demographic data.

The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established in January 2009 by the government of India. Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric ID system. World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer described Aadhaar as “the most sophisticated ID programme in the world”. Considered a proof of residence and not a proof of citizenship, Aadhaar does not itself grant any rights to domicile in India.

Aadhaar card sample- By Sulthan — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57518199

Fun Fact: Bitcoin was launched 25 days before UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) was established on Jan 28, 2009!


Why is Aadhaar / a national Identity System Important?

Some five millennia ago, the ancient civilization of Babylon had a problem at hand — how to identify the numerous slaves that thronged the capital of the empire? they solved that problem — by tattooing or branding the face or back of hands of the slaves. This took place in Babylon, which produced the first code of civil law.

More recently, In 1999 after the Kargil war in India, the Kargil Review Committee, submitted its report to the then Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, among its various recommendations was the proposal that citizens in villages in border regions be issued identity cards on a priority basis, with such ID cards issued later to all people living in border states. This formed the basis for Aadhaar. Result? almost every nation in the world has some kind of national identity.

We live in a society which thrives on countless civil laws, and therefore, the very thought of having a centralized identification does not come as a surprise. Thus, the scheme of national identification has a strong foothold and backing in history.

From a government perspective, a national identity gives more control over its citizens for its national security and offer better social services such as direct cash transfers and implementing other socialist policies. From a citizen’s angle, it gives a sense of belonging.


How was Aadhaar Implemented?

  • 28 January 2009 — The UIDAI was established
  • 23 June 2009 — Nandan Nilekani, the co-founder of Infosys, was appointed by the then-government, UPA, to head the project.
  • Top Down Enrolment: In July 2010 UIDAI published a list 15 of agencies which were qualified to provide training to personnel to be involved in the enrolment process. It also published a list of 220 agencies that were qualified to take part in the enrolment process.
  • Authentication: On 7 February 2012 the UIDAI launched an online verification system for Aadhaar numbers.
  • Direct Cash Transfers: On 26 November 2012 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched an Aadhaar-linked direct benefit transfer scheme.

How much did it cost to implement the Aadhar system?

On 9 November 2012, the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) published a paper titled A cost-benefit analysis of Aadhaar. The paper claimed that by 2015–2016 the benefits of the project would surpass the costs, and by 2020–2021 the total benefit would be ₹251 billion (US$3.5 billion) against a total expenditure of ₹48.35 billion (US$670 million).

Aadhaar System Enrolment & Logistics Cost

Enrolment — 526 million USD

Logistics — 161 million uSD

Total — 1.2 Billion USD

Timeframe — 8 years


Criticisms against Aadhaar

Today, 26/9/2018, is a very important day for the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the institution behind the Aadhar system, as the Supreme court of India is giving a verdict on the way forward for UIDAI & the validity of the Aadhaar system. But since its inception the Aadhaar system has faced several criticisms.

Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Bitcoin Evangelist, called Aadhaar the ‘hack me’ / ‘bribe me & I’ll make you whoever you want to be’ system.

Aadhaar a.k.a. ‘Hackme’

UIDAI’s Aadhaar Software Hacked, ID Database Compromised, Experts Confirm
NEW DELHI-The authenticity of the data stored in India’s controversial Aadhaar identity database, which contains the…www.huffingtonpost.in

IIT Kharagpur graduate hacked Aadhaar data through Digital India app: Police
An IIT Kharagpur graduate who has been accused of hacking into the central identities data repository of the Unique…indianexpress.com

Aadhaar a.k.a. ‘Bribe me & I’ll make you whoever you want to be’

Bangladeshis living illegally in Mumbai found with Aadhaar cards
Tribune News Service Mumbai, March 27 A crackdown on Bangladeshi nationals living illegally in Mumbai has unearthed…www.tribuneindia.com


Any identity system by a government is centralised which is the source of corruption, inequality, injustice, misery and poverty in a massive scale. — Andreas M. Antonopoulos.

Quick Recap: Till now, we have understood that there is enough merit in having a national identity and almost every nation has some kind of national identity system which is defined, controlled and executed by the governments. But the problem is centralization of these government-led identity systems. So what’s the alternative? Read on.


Centralized, De-centralised, Distributed — a short primer

Let’s take a break here to understand centralized, decentralized and distributed networks (a bunch of computers connected by the internet) before we proceed.

Centralized- Centralised source of data storage and decision making. In Aadhaar’s case, it’s the UIDAI & Indian government stores our data and act as the decision making authority. Also, we as citizens have no say over how the data will be used. Though policies like GDPR and DEPA (India Stack) are laid out to allay our fears of privacy and surveillance, I see these policies as trying to build a bottle around a genie that has come out of a small bottle. You can never do that.

Decentralized means that there is no single point where the decision is made. Every node makes a decision for its own behavior and the resulting system behavior is the aggregate response. Think of Bitcoin, no one place where the validation happens any miner (node/server running machine) can validate a block through mining (computer program to find a nonce that will match the rule set by the network). In Identity context, this would mean all our identities are on a public blockchain with the network validating our identity and skills. Although we are heading in this direction we gotta set the foundation strong so that the de-centralized community has a solid ground to work on.

Distributed means that the processing is shared across multiple nodes, but the decisions may still be centralized and use complete system knowledge. Think of Ripple / any permissioned /private blockchain that sets boundaries as to who can run a node / participate in the consortium and the decision making happening through selected nodes. In Identity context, this would mean we close the blockchain and give access to necessary institutions for validation. If you say you are “Sam”, a government id proof may be required or a government institution would have validated that proof. your Educational record would have been validated by the respective institution. We are essentially distributing the validating power to existing institutions.


Way Forward?

A de-centralized #DigitalUniversalIdentity (DUI) is the ideal state where anyone can be identified uniquely irrespective of boundaries and no decision making is centralized. Which means if you say you are “Sam” the network will validate and accept it with no middlemen (government/institutions) whatsoever. But, for us to get there we gotta move through a distributed solution first marked by boundaries (nation states) and records validated by the network. We gotta learn from the governments across the globe that have implemented identity systems, take the best out of it and come up with a better solution.

The government initially bankrolls any innovation. Any new frontier needs the government money. Then we learn from them, from their mistakes, we come up saying we can do it better at half the money.

Think of Space Exploration, government bodies such as the NASA and ISRO came first. They test out the technologies and means to execute high-risk space science and exploration. After years of trying, failing, succeeding and documenting where the hostiles are, where the friendlies are, where the food is, where it isn’t. etc they pave way for the likes of SpaceX & ExseedSpace to come in and share the mantle by bringing in operational efficiencies and a capitalist work ethic.

As we understand that a centralized identity system can be hacked and manipulated, we gotta look at de-centralized identities.

Unlike centralised Identity solutions backed by nation states, Blockchain-based identity places control of identity in the hands of the individuals or corporations that that the identity represents. Central databases and certificate authorities are not necessarily replaced. Data still needs a secure home, and it still makes sense to have third parties validate the authenticity of documents.

The value in changing the order of responsibility around identity is that it becomes harder to steal, hold hostage, or manipulate the underlying documents that represent your identity. Information is shared as needed without exposing unnecessary information. — “Blockchain for Dummies”


De-centralised Identities – #BUIDL

The crypto community that wants to de-centralise everything would tell you that a de-centralised identity is the ideal future and the community is churning out some really cool projects.

Tieto and Evernym — the leading developer of self-sovereign identity technologies — have launched a Sovrin Pilot Program with the aim of introducing a global identity network to Nordic customers.

Signicat has been doing a proof of concept with the sovereign identity idea. Below are the components of this PoC.

Civic — Secure Identity Platform. Verified identity de-centralized with blockchain technology.

U.K. Government has been urged to provide citizens greater control over how their information is shared with public services, says the Reform think tank.A report by Reform, The Future of Public Service Identity: Blockchain [PDF], states that the government requires a new approach, adding that it should be: One which is secure, efficient and puts the individual at the centre of identity management. Blockchain offers this.

The issue with purely de-centralised systems is that the consensus algorithms such as proof of work / proof of stake giving complete power to the network based on computational difficulty is a little hard to digest now in the identity context.


Distributed Identities — #BUIDL

Like mentioned above, before we go completely de-centralised we need a distributed solution. We gotta create private blockchains specific to states or countries involve all the necessary stakeholders yet make sure the data is with the citizen.

A comprehensive profile of an individual, not just bio metrics and demographic data will be captured , cryptographically secured and distributed via distributed ledger technology / blockchain. The validating parties are the respective institutes and institutions.

Peoplechain is our version of such a distributed identity.

Category : Blockchain , Technology

Blockchain for Governments

Blockchain for Governments

In a ideal world there will be no governments as the government is nothing but a centralised intermediary getting in the way of people and machines interacting with each other and transacting value. All in the name of establishing “trust”. Before you stop reading this post thinking this is some anti-establishment rant, let me switch gears and take you into a journey of how blockchain can disrupt government functions.

Definition

The group of people with the authority to govern a country or state; a particular ministry in office.

Let’s break down the definition.

“group of people” — the rulers;

“authority” — formal authority (elected (democracy)/ bestowed upon themselves (autocrats/ conquerors));

“country or state” means the boundary within which this “group of people” have power.

To govern anything you should know what you are governing. As in, identifying your people, your borders, your assets / properties etc.

Identity of People:

We have national identity systems such as Aadhaar in India, Social Security Number in the USA. The problems with these systems are that it is centralised which means it’s easily hackable and there are human involved processes that can be broken. Remember the story of Rs. 500 for access to entire Aadhaar data? There are startups trying to solve this identity issue on Blockchain.

Blockchain-based identity places control of identity in the hands of the individuals or corporations that that the identity represents. Central databases and certificate authorities are not necessarily replaced. Data still needs a secure home, and it still makes sense to have third parties validate the authenticity of documents.

The value in changing the order of responsibility around identity is that it becomes harder to steal, hold hostage, or manipulate the underlying documents that represent your identity. Information is shared as needed without exposing unnecessary information. — “Blockchain for Dummies”

Few Developments in this Area:

Tieto and Evernym— the leading developer of self-sovereign identity technologies — have launched a Sovrin Pilot Program with the aim of introducing a global identity network to Nordic customers.

Signicat has been doing a proof of concept with the sovereign identity idea. Below are the components of this PoC.

Civic — Secure Identity Platform. Verified identity decentralized with blockchain technology.

U.K. Government has been urged to provide citizens greater control over how their information is shared with public services, says the Reform think tank.A report by Reform, The Future of Public Service Identity: Blockchain [PDF], states that the government requires a new approach, adding that it should be:

One which is secure, efficient and puts the individual at the centre of identity management. Blockchain offers this.

Identity of Properties

Once the identity of people are established, the next is to define private properties and make sure disputes are resolved amicably through smart contracts built on programmable blockchain such as Ethereum.

Title transfers: Title transfers will be digitized and recorded on a blockchain. A Singaporean blockchain startup known as Dxmarkets has developed a proof-of-concept.

In India, the AndhraPradesh givernment is piloting a blockchain based land registry application .

The Indian state of Andhra Pradesh is working with startup ChromaWay on a land registry pilot that uses blockchain to track the ownership of property.

The state government has been exploring a number of uses for blockchain in recent months, and in September it inked a separate partnership with startup WISekey related to identity solutions. Andhra Pradesh is one of several regional governments in India to look into applications of the tech, and land registries — systems used to keep track of who owns what property — have been highlighted by other governments worldwide as one area in which the technology could lead to improved services.

Citizen Services

After it exited the Soviet Union, Estonia invested heavily in new technology. It shifted completely away from traditional government to one where it utilizes a single-window principle (one point of access for citizens). The single-window principle enables access to all tax and customs services for citizens with a single secure log-in anywhere in the world. Straightforward and paper-free transactions are made possible through this system. Everything, except marriage and real estate purchases, can be done completely online. Estonian citizens can make bank transfers or pay tax in a few minutes.

The Estonians have embraced blockchain technologies. The next big development will be a blockchain-enabled cloud. Estonia has hired Ericsson, Apcera, and Guardtime to jointly develop and operate a hybrid cloud platform that will enhance the scalability, resilience, and data security of tax reporting and online health care advice.

Nasdaq is developing blockchain services in Estonia as well. It’s building a market for private companies that keeps track of the shares they issue and enables them to settle transactions immediately. It’s focused on improving the proxy voting process for enterprises. It will be a way to register your business.

The Bitnation project is collaborating with Estonia to offer a public notary to Estonian e-Residents, which will allow Estonia’s e-Residents, regardless of where they live or do business, to notarize their marriages, birth certificates, and business contracts on a blockchain. Blockchain notarized documents aren’t legally binding in the Estonian jurisdiction, or in any other nation or state, but it will allow citizens to prove the age of these documents.”

Excerpt From: Laurence, Tiana. “Blockchain For Dummies (For Dummies (Computer/Tech)).” iBooks.

Notary

An interesting example of blockchain in notary was by Ancun Zhengxin Co., which is leading the shift to electronic data notarization services in China through partnerships with more than 100 traditional notarial offices in 28 provinces. It’s also offering electronic data storage and blockchain notarization solution through traditional offices.

Ancun publishes thousands of records in a publicly searchable blockchain that allow users to go back and check the authenticity and age of notarized documents.

Conclusion

Governments can be open minded about using blockchain to make themselves be of better value and change their value proposition to the public would be a welcome change. Governments can be a facilitator of the new “friction free economy” (separate post about this incredible book) that author Ted Lewis talked about 2 decades back!!!

Category : Blockchain , Technology

BlockChain — Death by Definitions

BlockChain — Death by Definitions

Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency (not just a digital currency) and the technology that enables bitcoin is termed as Blockchain which is completely absurd because blockchain is just a data structure.

The ecosystem of data structure + network protocol + consensus algorithm + incentivisation (mining) leads to a complete decentralization that the bitcoin whitepaper aimed to achieve. Let’s look at the popular definitions of Blockchain and try to define our own.

Martin Jee

Blockchain is a software solution (protocol) for reaching agreement (consensus) within a leaderless (decentralized) group of peers (peer to peer), that events have occurred, as they occur (synchronized) and that of these each events is recorded in an indisputable (immutable) historical list (ledger) which each peer has a copy of (distributed).

He confused blockchain with bitcoin protocol. Otherwise it’s a pretty good definition.

Investopedia:

A blockchain is a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. Constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks (the most recent transactions) are recorded and added to it in chronological order, it allows market participants to keep track of digital currency transactions without central record keeping. Each node (a computer connected to the network) gets a copy of the blockchain, which is downloaded automatically.

Webopedia:

Blockchain refers to a type of data structure that enables identifying and tracking transactions digitally and sharing this information across a distributed networkof computers, creating in a sense a distributed trust network. The distributed ledger technology offered by blockchain provides a transparent and secure means for tracking the ownership and transfer of assets.

Standard Chartered Bank:

The technology behind Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies is a distributed ledger data base for recording transactions, more commonly known as blocks.
Blockchain technology enables users to share their ledger of transactions. The record of events gets distributed to all participants in a given network, who in turn use their computers to validate the transactions; thereby removing the need to have a third party intermediary such as a bank or central clearing centre. Blockchain records can only be updated by consensus of a majority of the participants in the system and, once entered, information can never be erased — providing a detailed audit trail of all associated events.

When a bank defines it, you know how you should take it.

Google:

A digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly.

Heptagon:

Blockchain is a digital data storage mechanism where each record (transaction / event) is time stamped (chronological) in a secure way (hashed) and clubbed together (blocks) with a reference to the previous block (eg: merkle tree) thus forming a chain of blocks.

A network of such blocks spread across incentivised nodes (miners) have a way to share/ transmit (eg: whisper protocol) data and reach consensus (Proof of Work, Proof of Stake etc) without a centralised book keeper / institution. This is Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). This ecosystem forms the foundation of a purely de-centralised peer-peer economy without intermediaries such as Banks, Governments, Hosting Solutions, Payment gateways, Ubers, Airbnbs etc.

In the following posts we will break down each jargon and give y‘all a non-BS filled account of this new & exciting decentralised world.

Follow heptagon to stay informed!

Category : Blockchain , Technology

Launching Blockchain Consulting Services

Launching Blockchain Consulting Services

The technology most likely to change the next decade of business is not the social web, big data, the cloud, robotics, or even artificial intelligence. It’s the blockchain, the technology behind digital currencies like Bitcoin.  – Harvard Business Review

At Heptagon, we are pumped to launch the blockchain consulting practice to help traditional companies question themselves and make themselves obsolete, if need be, to thrive in the ever-changing world.

The engagement is very simple.

  1. Train
    We start with a one day workshop on blockchain & major cryptocurrencies with analogies and deep dive into the technicals.
  2. Analyze
    The workshop ends with a 3-day homework on the impact areas of blockchain / decentralized public ledger within your business.
  3. Research
    This is the key phase where we decide the type of blockchain we will be using. The mining and distributed consensus algorithms and the chart the way forward. A draft whitepaper is prepared.
  4. Build
    With comments and thoughts from the community, we start building the technology and the UX.
  5. Scale
    Based on the type of blockchain chosen we start building the business pieces into it.

Let’s make your business, blockchain ready!