Digital identity in the legal industry

Interview with Mev Dzihic: Digital identity in the legal industry – is the future Blockchain?

Interview with Mev Dzihic: Digital Identity in the Legal Industry – is the future Blockchain? In this interview, Mev Dzihic, Chief Technology Officer at Verify 365, discusses the challenges of fighting fraud in the post-Covid world, and how Verify 365’s latest innovations such as blockchain digital identity, automated client onboarding and NFC-biometrics are transforming the legal profession. Mev talks about how the traditional identity verification systems of today are fragmented, and how the latest blockchain-driven technologies can enable a more secure management and storage of digital identities by providing unified, interoperable, and tamper-proof infrastructure with benefits to law firms and consumers. We kick off by looking at how the current digital identity technologies work.

Do lawyers understand what blockchain technology is?

Over the last 50 years, there has been an explosion in software technology. From the time of punch cards used to code old IBM machines, then moving to operating systems powering home computers, to the diversification between “front-end” and “back-end” code, making websites easier to build for everyone, and now having systems which are completely “no-code”, and then the leap forward to the use of “big-data” in areas of machine learning, AI and blockchain.

A lot of these terms sound like they belong in Silicon Valley, or some new start-up that just secured £100 million in new investment, which doesn’t expect to make profit for the next 10 years.

But the truth is, a lot of the technology I mentioned above already exists in the legal sector. One thing which is going to become increasingly important is the use of “blockchain technology” for the purposes of verifying your client’s identity, storing smart contracts and authorising digital payments.

What is blockchain?

Before we jump into how blockchain works for digital identity, let’s first go over what a blockchain is. Now, most definitions will describe a blockchain in such a way where you have to look-up five other words to understand the definition. But for simplicity a blockchain is a system of recording information (transactions) across an entire network of computer systems, meaning that you’re duplicating the data records across multiple computers (nodes) thus creating a chain of networks that are linked together. This chain can either be public, meaning everyone can access it, or private.

This description above is a version of blockchain known as Distributed Ledger Technology where the “ledger” refers to the digital records kept on a computer within your chain of computers.

So, when you hear someone refer to a transaction in a blockchain, it is a piece of data changing, and when someone refers to a ledger, it is the data held on a computer in respect to your network of computers. The blockchain itself is just the ethereal connection between all these computers (nodes). Simple enough, right?

What are the benefits to using technology that relies on blockchain infrastructure?

There are many benefits to using technology that relies on blockchain infrastructure. These include speed of data sharing, inventory management, and so on, but the key benefit is the increased security that comes with storing data across multiple nodes.

What this means is that if your node is corrupted and data is lost, you can copy over data from one of the other nodes thus acting as a secure NODES

backup. So, if your node is “hacked” or “compromised”, then the hackers would have to hack all the other nodes in your blockchain to hide this hack. Considering that a blockchain could have thousands and thousands of nodes across the globe, this becomes impossible.

Is this the same as cryptocurrency?

So now that we understand what we mean by blockchain, let’s clarify the difference between blockchain and cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency, which is not regulated by any one entity. The two most well know crypto currencies are Ethereum and Bitcoin.

You can make payments or receive money with your currency and all transactions are recorded on a Distributed Public Ledger, meaning that the transactions using cryptocurrencies are recorded on a blockchain.

So, to keep it simple, cryptocurrencies are built on blockchain enabling technologies, but they themselves are not a blockchain. We can summarise this is the phrase, “all cryptocurrencies have a blockchain, but not all blockchains have a cryptocurrency”.

Why is blockchain technology important for digital identity verification?

By this point, all the readers of this article should have a good understanding of what blockchain is and for those more technologically savvy readers, you might be connecting the dots as to why blockchain technology is important for digital identities and relevant in the legal sector.

We can categorise the benefits of blockchain driven digital identity verification into two sections; accessibility and data security, so the inability to get you identity stolen.

What do you mean by accessibility?

Smartphones and iPads are becoming increasingly popular across the globe, especially in the Western World. Verify 365 are developing a super secure Digital ID Wallet, based on blockchain-driven identity management, called MyID®, where clients can access and share a secure biometric, verified ID with third parties without having to go through the process of using cumbersome state agencies like the passport office or DVLA. MyID® will provide “accessibility” that offers clients the ability to “control their ID” at a moment’s notice and share it securely without any risk.

How do you create and verify a “Digital ID” on Verify 365?

By creating a “MyID – Digital ID Wallet” on Verify 365, which is securely stored on a blockchain, means that if your ID is stolen and then used by a fraudster, the moment your information is used in conjunction with someone else’s, all other nodes in your blockchain will flag that ID as “fake”. So, it isn’t difficult to see the practical applications in the legal sector, as Verify 365’s MyID® Digital ID Wallet will have a transformational impact for AML compliance and ID Checks, especially in conveyancing, wills and probate, family and potentially across the entire spectrum of the legal sector.

Is the legal world ready for Digital ID?

I believe that in the next 10 years we will see a giant leap in legal technology and software solutions that will be transformational in the sector. This is especially true for blockchain, big data, augmented reality and the metaverse. The legal sector in the future will be very different to what we see today. Blockchain driven IDs are coming, and software like Verify 365 with our use of “MyID” Digital ID Wallet is driving the way forward.

This article was submitted to be published by Verify 365 as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Family Lawyer. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Family Lawyer.

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