We recently got a hold of Drummond Reed, Chief Trust Officer at Evernym and speaker for this year’s conference. Reed shared his history with blockchain, his expectations for the future and his insights on how self-sovereign identity will change the internet security landscape.
Q: How did you get involved in the blockchain space?
A: That’s easy. Self-sovereign identity, in my view, is the biggest breakthrough in Internet identity since I started in the field. And the secret to SSI—the key that unlocks it—is blockchain technology. Ironically, however, blockchain is just a very thin piece of SSI. But it’s the piece that solves the problem of decentralized key management. Unlock that, and the world is your oyster—you can finally provide strong, interoperable, decentralized digital identity at Internet scale.
Q: What’s your role at Evernym and what do you do?
A: My title is Chief Trust Officer. That’s a relatively new title but I think you’ll start to see more Chief Trust Officers soon. It synthesizes the roles of Chief Identity Officer, Chief Security Officer, and Chief Privacy Officer titles into one office for all three functions, because you really need all three to produce trust. We consolidated it specifically because Evernym, as an SSI platform vendor, is in the trust building business, so it’s critical to us to have them all coordinated.
Q: What challenges have you seen in this industry (as your role)?
A: The first challenge was envisioning and defining SSI. That’s still underway but we’re a long ways down that road—it is now widely recognized as the emerging new paradigm of Internet-scale identity and trust management. The second challenge is evangelizing and educating early adopters/customers; we’re deep in that stage now and it’s going very well because SSI offers the kind of breakthrough advantages that excites and motivates customers—like passwordless registration/authentication, automated encrypted communications, GDPR compliant data sharing, and lifetime relationship management. So honestly the biggest challenge we face right now is just executing fast enough to meet the demand.
Q: What topic are you going to present at the Blockchain Seattle and why?
A: I’m going to introduce the whole concept of SSI and the four emerging open standards that make it possible. I’m then going give an example of a very exciting new project from the BC Government identity team that illustrates why SSI is a major win for both governments and their citizens.
Q: What you think people can expect to see in this industry in 2018?
A: Blockchain technology has enormous potential in so many areas, but I can only really speak to the one on which I’m focused. With regard to SSI, we’re moving from POCs (proof-of-concepts) to the first significant implementations. For example, the credit union industry has a goal of issuing one million SSI digital credentials of credit union membership in the next six months. So what we’ll see is the lessons learned from these first major projects and the impact they will have on the Internet, Web, and e-commerce landscapes. I think we’ll also see the first major moves by governments.
Q: What would you say to someone considering attending the conference or joining the community?
A: Seattle has become one of the hotbeds of blockchain development, including SSI. It’s not yet seeing quite as much activity in SSI as London and New York and Utah (the birthplace of Sovrin), but it’s ramping up quickly. So I’d encourage anyone looking at the conference to come not only to learn about blockchain in general, but specifically to learn about SSI and join the growing SSI community here.