Digital Identity Security Co., a startup based in London, is building an encrypted messaging and identity management platform for the Commonwealth governments to communicate with one another about criminal investigations.
The 18-month project, announced Monday, should be of interest to bank technologists because it involves several important themes in fintech right now: secure communications, digital identity and the blockchain.
DISC promises to give Commonwealth law enforcement agencies similar capabilities as Symphony, the financial-industry messaging service that has proven so secure it has drawn the ire of U.S. regulators concerned about their ability to access bank records.
The new system will use distributed ledger technology, similar to bitcoin's blockchain, to keep track of who is authorized to do what on the platform.
"This project responds to a pressing need for better methods of secure communication to facilitate cooperation in investigations," Steven Malby, head of law development at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said in a press release. The secretariat is the main intergovernmental agency of the 53 Commonwealth nations, mostly former British colonies.
The U.S. appears to be on the hunt for something similar. Last month the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Defense agency that created the Internet, issued a request for proposals from contractors to build a secure communications platform that would allow for one-time-only, self-deleting messages. The system would have "a decentralized infrastructure to be resilient to cyber-attacks," according to the call for proposals, which describes the platform as "built on … an existing blockchain framework."
DISC, led by CEO Amy Scott, also has offices in New York, Toronto and Auckland, New Zealand. It joins a growing list of fintech companies offering blockchain-based identity systems, along with Gem, Credits.Vision, Blockstack, Civic and others. (Banks are also experimenting with blockchains for various other use cases.)
Broadly, fintech companies and some forward-thinking banks are trying to reinvent the way digital identities are managed, to give customers greater control over their data and reduce duplication of effort.