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July 2018
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Zonafide: Why the public sector is ready for blockchain technology

Paul Worrall, Founder, Zonafide

Blockchain. Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency. These are just some of the buzz words that have been seen widespread usage on the front pages of mainstream media in recent months. Despite the increasing noise around these terms, the practical applications and uses of them has been hotly debated.
Within this context, few are talking about how the public sector fits into this equation and how this technology can bring new opportunities to provide value and generate revenue from existing public services.

At Zonafide we see significant scope for public sector organisations to embrace blockchain technology and are excited about the future having already developed a first use case with Local Government Register Services.

Zonafide: a Digital Wallet leveraging blockchain and collaboration technology to ensure a person’s Activities are secure from fraud and cybercrime
In 2013 after we and people within our wider community experienced various forms of identity theft. I started thinking more closely about how people share their personal information and how they had to interact with organisations and companies around this sensitive data.

It was also clear that this was a growing and increasingly costly problem. According to the ONS, there were a staggering 6 million fraud and cybercrimes in England and Wales in 2015/16 with a total cost of £11 billion to the UK economy. Moreover, this trend showed no sign of abating with the cost implications for individuals, companies and organisations set to rocket further.

Looking at this growing phenomenon it was evident that the current relationship and the principle of trust between individuals and organisations needed to be readdressed.

Historically, different organisations have different ways to identify people making it harder for customers to manage their credentials. Verification processes are fractious and inefficient in and between organisations, as well as the fact people have to trust organisations to secure their information. Evidently, from the number of data breaches and cyberattacks this is proving hard for organisations to do – the case of Equifax and the breach of 143 million consumer’s data being one of the most high profile recent cases.

In short, legacy technology and centralized systems are vulnerable to attack and aren’t able to guarantee the job they set out to do.

In response to this issue and drawing upon my thirty years of experience in software development and distributed computing in investment banking, we have developed a digital wallet to help users secure Activities and take back control of their personal information – we call it being self-sovereign.

An Activity is something important people are doing, such as a house purchase payment or changing credit limits with a bank and takes the form of an Ethereum-based smart contract. By using a digital wallet, users can securely share their Activities to prove they’re legitimate.
In addition, as the blockchain network is decentralised, it avoids the inflexibility, inefficiencies, costs and weaknesses embedded in centralised systems.

The public sector and blockchain: opportunities to provide value and generate revenue. So how does Zonafide and its blockchain based technology fit with the public sector?

We have identified and developed a first use case with Local Government Registers Services for life events, such as births, deaths and marriages.
Specifically, we have developed a Newlywed Name Change Service where Registrars can help couples looking to change their name do so efficiently and securely. No longer does a recent bride or groom who needs to change their name with multiple service providers – think utility services, banks, insurers – have to go through the laborious and time intensive process of contacting them separately, sending off different paper work and having to follow their different verification process. Through the Zonafide app, this can be achieved through a few simple taps.

With over 262,000 marriages across England and Wales annually (87% of which are performed by Register Services), this is a significant market. The wider births, deaths and life events market is also worth £600m a year, so again this one application has significant market opportunity.
We currently have Letters of Intent from four London Boroughs for the Newlywed Name Change Service. As part of their onboarding, we have also been the first private sector organisation to train public officials on a specific blockchain-based product and its benefits. Through Zonafide, there’s also the potential for Local Authorities to grow new revenue streams. Within the Zonafide ecosystem one of the key roles are the Authoritative Acknowledger Oracles (‘Oracles’). Oracles are specialists in their domain, for example in the Newlywed Name Change Service, and are responsible for onboarding the necessary parties to ensure an Activity is authoritatively Acknowledged. Oracles charge for this service, thereby earning revenue from playing a role within the Zonafide ecosystem.

Our ambition is to take this initial use case to councils across England and Wales, which collectively would translate into significant new revenue for authorities throughout the country.

Beyond Register Services the opportunities for adopting blockchain in the public sector are vast. From the NHS handling sensitive patient information, submitting planning applications to preventing electoral fraud and applying for a new passport, everywhere you look there are opportunities to make processes that involve the public sector organisations and individuals more secure and frictionless.

In particular, there is also the benefit with Zonafide for supporting vulnerable people, as they often need greater protection when navigating important transactions. By including family members in the Activity verification process, it will help add an extra layer of protection to ensure vulnerable people are not the victims of fraud and that potentially life changing actions don’t happen unless they are meant to.

The public sector and blockchain: the future

A few years from now I envisage blockchain technology being integrated with processes across both the private and public sector. However, the truth is that the technology and importantly, viable applications, are here now.

As Zonafide and its Newlywed Name Change Service shows, blockchain could provide the public sector with many opportunities for value creation and increased revenue from existing services.

By Paul Worrall, Founder, Zonafide

About Zonafide

Zonafide is a Digital Wallet that leverages blockchain and collaboration technology to ensure Activities are secure and legitimate. An Activity is something important that an individual carries out, for example, a house purchase or changing credit limits with a bank. Zonafide is one of the first business uses of blockchain technology and is designed to empower people to protect themselves from cybercrime and fraud.
Zonafide’s first use case is with Local Government Register Services for life events (births, deaths and marriages) which represents a market opportunity of c.600 million. The founder, Paul Worrall, has over 30 years’ experience in distributed computing and software development in investment banking.

For more information, please visit: www.zonafide.net/

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