Financial Data Aggregator Finicity Joins The Sovrin Foundation As Founding Steward

Interviews, News | May 16, 2018 By:

Nick Thomas is the president and co-founder of Finicity, a financial data aggregator enabling data-driven insights. He specializes in heading up Finicity’s data services business. He also founded Komodo and currently serves on the board of directors of AIM Utah.

Through its real-time financial data aggregation and insights platform, Finicity provides solutions for financial management, payments and credit decisioning. The company has developed more than 16,000 bank integrations, with the vast majority through connections that provide access to formatted bank data, improving information access and accuracy.

Finicity recently joined the Sovrin Foundation as a Founding Steward. Stewards are tasked with the operation and maintenance of the foundation’s decentralized digital identity platform. Finicity will actively contribute intellectual and infrastructure resources to the Sovrin Network, while working with other Sovrin Stewards to accelerate the mission of the organization by promoting the adoption of self-sovereign identity (SSI) technologies. At its core, this network uses a purpose-built blockchain technology to enable the secure exchange of cryptographically signed credentials possessed by individuals, organizations and connected devices.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Tell us more about Finicity and Sovrin. How did this partnership come about?

NICK THOMAS: Finicity’s long-held mission is to help individuals and organizations better understand and manage their financial lives. A key part of this is giving consumers more control of and insight to their data. We continually search for new technologies and capabilities to invest in that will fulfill our mission and further enable consumers to improve their financial health. Identity and digital credentials are a significant element of the overall picture of managing personal financial information, making Sovrin a natural fit.

Sovrin is a decentralized public utility built on the blockchain. Its mission is to enable individuals and businesses to manage their own digital identities and enrich these identities with digital credentials issued by trusted government and industry players.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are the responsibilities of a Sovrin steward? What resources will Finicity be contributing?

NICK THOMAS: Stewards are trusted organizations that have signed the Sovrin Provisional Trust Framework and are operating validator nodes of the Sovrin ledger. These organizations, which include countries, financial institutions, certificate authorities, universities and others, are responsible for ensuring that the network is available, public, secure and independent of outside control.

All stewards are governed by the Sovrin Foundation’s constitutional Trust Framework, which consists of a diffused trust model. The diffusion of trust prevents undue influence over the network from any single source. Other Sovrin Stewards include IBM, Deutsche Telekom, Brigham Young University and the law firms of BakerHostetler and Perkins Coie.

Finicity will actively contribute promotional, intellectual and infrastructure resources to the Sovrin Network. Our work with Sovrin will include our role as a validator node, ongoing contribution to the Sovrin Trust Framework working group and active promotion of a global public utility in the form of a public-permissioned blockchain that is governed by a consortium of trusted entities organized through a global non-profit organization.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: How did Finicity become involved with promoting self-sovereign identity?

NICK THOMAS: Finicity has been a longtime advocate of consumer-permissioned data access, which enables consumers to provide explicit consent for the use of their data that’s housed with data custodians such as financial institutions. During the fintech boom of the past decade, this model has slowly but surely taken over the traditional walled garden mentality.

The move to an individual controlling identity is a natural evolution of this process and will eventually become a critical component of the financial landscape. Often referred to as self-sovereign identity, this goes beyond data access, adding a new layer of digital identity to the internet. We have been looking into the concept for some time, and becoming involved with Sovrin was a natural next step in our support of this new technology.

As a financial data aggregator, we are leading the charge towards giving the consumers more control of their data in a secure manner. We believe that the adoption of consumer-controlled identity can be a key path for this, and are working towards advancing that cause.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What are some applications and use cases for self-sovereign identity?

NICK THOMAS: There are exponential use cases for individual control of identity. Overall, it enables consumers to hold all of their own information and permission other entities, such as budgeting apps, credit reporting agencies and banks, to access it. It enables people to take their data with them should they move and better control who has access to it while minimizing the information they reveal.

Consumer-controlled identity also provides the use of Zero Knowledge Proofs, which enables asking specific questions about a consumer’s data rather than revealing a broader set of raw data to the requestor.

For example, if you are looking to buy a lottery ticket, instead of having to hand over a driver’s license to verify your age, which would also reveal your name, height, weight and address, the tech behind self-sovereign identity could simply verify that you are over the required age without revealing anything else.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: How long do you think it will take for self-sovereign identity to become widely used?

NICK THOMAS: Regulators are moving more quickly to enable strict consumer data protection rules. With the required implementation of GDPR in Europe in May of 2018 and global lawmaking and regulatory rulemaking following similar trends, we will see SSI emerge this year. Broad adoption will take several years, but the wave has already begun. Right now, companies like Finicity and groups like Sovrin are working behind the scenes to figure out the best path forward.