Vereign enables authentic communication with the help of blockchain technology. Georg Greve will be discussing the Vereign project with us in this interview.
1) Please tell us your name and about yourself?
My name is Georg Greve and I am a technologist and entrepreneur who started out as a self-taught software developer and physicist. Having worked on technical, legal and business issues around Open Source technology has given me unique insights into the industry, including companies such as IBM, Google, Red Hat, and others. My previous endeavours include being the founding president at the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and co-founder of Kolab Systems AG. Today I am Chairman and Head of Product Development at Vereign.
2) What is Vereign?
Vereign makes real verified, self-sovereign identity and personal data. We provide a seamless in-place addition of authenticity and privacy to email, the world’s largest communication network with almost 4 billion users. Our solution protects against identity theft, business email compromise and other rampant forms of cyber attacks while opening new business opportunities. Building on existing open standards and regulatory frameworks for qualified electronic signature we provide a key piece toward making the token economy real. Developed as a seamless add-on, our solution can add identity, authenticity and privacy to any kind of service or application. We’re already working with Collabora to add it to the next version of LibreOffice – and there are many more services that could benefit from this solution even if only to reduce exposure against General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or password compromise. Vereign gives users control over their identity and data, seamlessly adds authenticity, and protects user data anywhere. All with the ease of use of a solution like Apple Pay.
3) Vereign is Powered by blockchain and built on IBM OpenPower, could you tell us why you chose this framework?
We use blockchain for its ability to protect the immutability of data in time. This is important for the documents and messages themselves, as it allows to prove the email or document existed in this form at this point in time. The other use is for orchestration of the federated networks holding user identity, and establishing an audit trail of a users identity – including what the identity has been used for, and which devices have accessed it when and from where.
That kind of transparency is unique, and can only be achieved by an open, auditable stack which allows its technical claims to be verified. For that reason we have decided to go with OpenPower as it is the only open hardware platform that is ready for large deployments with a great innovation ecosystem. OpenPower is also strong in cloud environments, has excellent scalability, and the ability to add hardware based cryptography which helps to put a solution like this into production.
4) Who are the Vereign customers and what is the demand for email solutions like Vereign?
Every user of email will eventually discover their need to add Vereign to their existing email setup. Email is a fantastic medium and it is the backbone of business. It is also responsible for 92% of all cyber attacks and a host of other issues, including spam, scam, identity theft, business email compromise.
Vereign provides an end to end protection of privacy, identity and authenticity for both the sender and recipient. That puts an end to the vast majority of issues with email today. For people using email professionally this is an added layer to protect business partner and customer confidence. For anyone else it adds the assurance of a protected channel that works with anyone. It’s also a way to add social interaction to email, including receiving token rewards from senders in exchange for informing them they have read their mail.
There is an almost unlimited potential for this kind of solution: Lawyers can protect their legal privilege. Medial companies or professionals can make certain only the intended recipient will be able to read the information. Financial companies can communicate securely with their clients, both protecting crucial information and ensuring there is a strong audit trail for every interaction with the customer.
5) What unique services makes Vereign different from others, who are your competitors?
There is currently no comparable solution in the market. The closest might be plug-ins or services for signing and encrypting email, but those have significant drawbacks. Very often they require that users change their email service. In almost all cases users need to manage keys and verify that the keys used in an exchange have indeed not been tampered with.
Vereign integrates seamlessly into existing solutions and platforms and it does not require users to become key management experts. In fact we’ve even done away with usernames and passwords to make the whole solution and process as easy to use as your mobile phone payment application or credit card.
In addition, Vereign gives you a blockchain based audit trail of all your messages and documents, as well as any interaction that your identity has been conducting. That level of control and transparency is unique, and there have never been comparable levels of usability.
6) How does the Vereign Digital Passports and at what stage of development is the platform?
A passport is a window into your identity that shows only what you would like to show to a person you are interacting with. The system suggests some passports for common interactions, such as email, social media or business. Some passports may contain only your name and email address, others may contain also your mobile phone number or address. A passport for travel interaction may for instance contain your verified passport details to simplify interactions with airlines. This way, passports are an intuitive way for people to control what data to share with whom.
At this time the solution is in early beta stage. We have built the system and the basic features can be demonstrated and tried out. If you want to be part of this journey, please sign up to https://beta.vereign.com.
7) Do you have any investment and partnership opportunities to share with us, what is next on your roadmap?
The next step will be to put the system into production and launch the first user-governed network for hosting the data. Simultaneously we will continue to complete support for email applications, providers and browsers while we will also reach out to other companies for integration and collaboration.
We’re currently in a financing round for this next step, and interested parties are welcome to contact us.
8) We know Vereign is built on Blockchain for maximum security, is there any compliance concerns or restrictions to the platform?
There is a well-known tension between General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and blockchain, especially around the right to be forgotten. One of our co-founders is a legal counsel and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) who has been involved in these questions from the beginning, allowing us to design the solution into the system from the start. Vereign would in fact allow to add this kind of KYC verified, self-sovereign identity to any kind of blockchain application or network.
9) Who are the brains behind the Vereign project, tell us about your team and customer support?
Our co-founders are a unique mix of technical background with decades of experience in software and products, a CEO with 12 years of leadership experience in marketing and distribution operations in and with Asia, legal counsel and CISO with IT and compliance experience within the world’s largest logistics group, and a senior business executive and active investor who has held board positions in some of the most prestigious companies in Switzerland.
In order to build our team we had to screen over 500 candidates, arriving at around 20 senior developers and engineers. You can find our entire team and the exceptional advisory board online at https://www.vereign.com/about/#team.
10) Do you have more information for our readers?
Vereign stands for Verified and Sovereign, so the result of our solution, and the value for our users make our name. We are an open, community oriented company, built on the values of Open Source. So we very much value feedback and contribution and would like to invite everyone to our https://community.vereign.com forum, as well as our Telegram channel at https://t.me/vereign.