If you've read anything I've talked about in the past you'll get a sense that I'm a heavy advocate for projects in the crypto space, but namely those that have real use cases that build on the strengths that blockchain technology has opened up. Blockchain and cryptography are 2 peas in the same pod of technology and while blockchain owes much of its core infrastructure to some very strong cryptographic technology. The fact is that we're only beginning to see what a distributed infrastructure can do when you take the concept of cryptographic decentralization and apply it to real-world issues on a global scale.
A perfect example of the way companies is beginning to spot real-world problems and develop smart cutting edge solutions to those problems. The funny part is that blockchain and the "ICO explosion" of 2016-2017 only highlighted the issue in a huge way. With AML laws and KYC regulations finally starting to get enforced, and the world of cryptocurrency projects growing up from kid's toys to multi-billion dollar industries the government and companies discovered quickly while anonymity is important, when it comes to finances being able to prove you are who you say you are is still important, and in a decentralized internet and decentralized financial world, possibly more important than ever before.
Groups sprung up, no more than glorified centralized databases run by, basically no one or some centralized company that promised to take our data and keep it safe, something we've heard many times before. I always found it funny that the solution so many companies brought to the blockchain world for KYC was old school websites and old school databases. Then walks in Persona, a new cutting edge service looking to take the whole concept of KYC and Identity Management/Proof to a whole new level. By embracing blockchain and cryptography to not be the problem, but solve the problem at hand.
The team is building on top of the ARK platform to take advantage of an established code base that has proven itself but using it in a whole new way. By taking the concept of one-way cryptography and private/public keys, combined with smart contract technology to perform verification and release, it takes that "responsibility and trust" away from the random company online to keep your ID or Passport copy safe, and instead takes your identity and digitizes it. The vision at hand is to be able to prove you are who you say you are, without the need to also provide the blood of your first born child. In a world where huge corporations like yahoo, facebook and equifax can't be trusted to keep our data safe, it's a wise idea to transition away from human's being responsible for others data, and starting to rely on math and technology to keep our data safe, and in our own hands.
This kind of technology wasn't possible 5 years ago, in reality, it wasn't even possible in the first generation of blockchains it's only recently with some serious advances in blockchain/smart chain technology are we seeing the concept of a "zero-knowledge" trust system that's foolproof and trustworthy. It's a work of what sometimes feels like magic, to think that I as a store don't need to see an ID or Passport or Drivers Licenses, but because you used a secure code, I know you are who you say you are and can revoke that information as needed.
When I first started reading about the project, the immediate thing that popped into my head was "ICO KYC's, without giving my data to random joe shmoes that might just be a scam"... But after starting to read more and opening my mind a bit and realizing that just because Persona is a blockchain based project, it's a solution to a problem well outside the blockchain domain space. Imagine journalists being able to sign their literature and data dumps with their own keys, and anyone in the world being able to verify that the data really came from that journalist. Imagine governments publishing referendums and documentation and being able to assure all parties that the documents in question were really from them. The idea of zero-knowledge trust has so many possibilities, and it's the one area outside of cryptocurrency as a financial instrument that I think has the largest possible use cases once ease of use grows and more people understand it.
My biggest hope is that Persona can continue, with their test net up, hopefully, we'll see the team grow into a powerhouse offering something we don't see elsewhere. A blockchain based project that can offer a solution to Non-Blockchain based users. Applications and Solutions that while blockchain based don't have to be sold on the only tenant being the blockchain buzzword, but on the fact that decentralized identity management, without the need for centralized servers is just a good idea!