Digital Trust Ventures (DTV) is a venture studio founded by SSI pioneers to take advantage of the cooperative network effects and new business models made possible by transitive trust and self-sovereign technologies.
If you’re an entrepreneur eager to bring these technologies into a market you’re familiar with, we’ll help you conceive, fund, and execute an optimal short-term plan that leads to your big long-term vision, even during the pandemic.
What is transitive trust?
Transitive trust: trust established in one domain is partially or completely transferable to another.
- A doctor credentialed in one country is quickly authorized in another
- A police officer completes a traffic stop without leaving his vehicle
- Websites accept credentials they didn’t issue that are stronger than usernames and passwords
- A caller transferred between departments doesn’t need to re-authenticate
- Secure internet voting
And many more: whenever proof from a separate trust domain is required and verifications are difficult to quickly obtain. Transitive trust streamlines verifiability of information between silos of an organization or across the internet.
With SSI and verifiable credentials, transitive trust is now possible on a global scale. Learn more in our Thesis page.
What is self-sovereign identity (SSI)?
SSI enables people, organizations, and things to form secure, private, persistent connections usable for any type of trusted interaction. SSI establishes trust from low to high levels through the mutual exchange of cryptographically verifiable credentials.
What are verifiable credentials?
Usernames and passwords are plain text usable by any fraudster who steals them. Digital, standardized, verifiable credentials solve this problem and go much further.
With verifiable credentials, four things are cryptographically (mathematically) verifiable:
- The issuer of the credential
- To whom (or what) the credential was issued (optional)
- The credential has not changed since it was issued
- The credential has not been revoked by the issuer
Verifiable credentials contain digitally signed attestations about anything. For example, Toyota could issue a verifiable credential for each vehicle they make that’s essentially a digital form of this:
Toyota could make these publicly available so that anyone anywhere could quickly verify, with cryptographic strength, that this information was attested by Toyota.
DTV is interested in new business models now possible at SSI’s application layer that take advantage of SSI’s cooperative network effects. We believe it is the opportunity of a lifetime.
SSI is gaining momentum and will significantly impact many industries. SSI will open markets, reduce vendor lock-in, lower transaction costs, simplify workflows and move more control over your digital life to where it belongs: you.
Learn more in our Thesis page.
What is SSI’s application layer and why is DTV focused there?
DTV is focused on the vertical-focused top/application layer of SSI, not the horizontal lower/infrastructure layers.
After years of effort by dozens of organizations and hundreds of developers and policymakers globally, the lower layers of the SSI stack now have sufficient technical infrastructure, standardization, and legal/policy development that it is time to build new, vertically-focused applications and business models in the top layer and bring them to market, vertical by vertical.
We believe, that like the internet, the application layer is where most value from SSI will be captured, as the lower infrastructure layers remain horizontal and become increasingly commoditized. Also like the internet, the infrastructure layers will be lucrative for the few businesses positioned to capture value there, though this is not DTV’s focus.
Which verticals does DTV prefer?
Verticals we’re helping entrepreneurs with now:
- Payments/value transfer and compliance (non-cryptocurrency; startup soon to be announced)
- Verifiable credentials management systems (VCMS) (startup soon to be announced)
- Self-directed auto and personal lending (startup soon to be announced)
- Verifiable agreements, documents
- Verifiable internet voting
Other areas of interest:
- Enterprise key management
- Consent management
- Zero Trust Security
- Trade finance & supply chain
- Online gaming
What effect will a pandemic have on SSI?
We couldn’t imagine a stronger, more immediate stimulus toward SSI than a global pandemic that forces so much of our lives to be done remotely.
Telework, telehealth, e-gaming, e-voting, and more will increase quickly and dramatically. Many business workflows must change. The opportunities are everywhere and the need is immediate.
SSI and transitive trust can enable these and more to be done securely and effectively. We are ready to help entrepreneurs conceive, fund, and deliver these solutions as quickly as possible.
How does DTV help SSI entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs?
DTV helps entre/intrapreneurs:
- Develop an optimal business model and go-to-market strategy
- Generate early revenue without sacrificing the big vision
- Correctly architect for SSI and for the target vertical
- Recruit a world-class team
- Raise capital
- Reduce risk by adhering to Lean Startup principles
(Intrapreneurs are employees of a company who are assigned to work on a special idea or project. They are given the time and freedom to develop the project as an entrepreneur would.)
What is DTV’s recipe for SSI startup success?
The challenges and opportunities for SSI-based startups are different from other startups, especially when going to market. DTV’s recipe for success has five parts:
Part 1: The Small Vision — a market entry plan where traction and/or revenue is generated, investment justified, and survival assured regardless of broader SSI adoption (this is the hard part)
Part 2: The Big Vision — future state where adoption is widespread and your industry is transformed
Part 3: Dominos — incremental business targets that lead from the Small Vision to the Big Vision
Part 4: Re-Imagined UX — outside-the-box game-changing UX/CX not previously possible
Part 5: Open, User-Sovereign Protocols — true SSI ventures aren’t captive platforms, they introduce open interoperable protocols that enable user sovereignty
What is the most common mistake among SSI startups?
Over and over, we see entrepreneurs confusing use cases with business models. They are not the same.
Payments use case: SSI can enable credit card holders to prove their identity, preventing CNP fraud.
Payments business model: SSI-enabled hosted service sold to payment gateways, starting with a specific small vertical having fewer, larger transactions.
Gaming use case: SSI could prevent online gamers from over-extending themselves across different gaming sites.
Gaming business model: In a specific country, this has become such a problem that regulators have mandated gamers and gaming companies adopt a system that accomplishes it. The solution will be sold as a managed service to gaming companies and an app/wallet provided free to gamers, with an underlying open protocol developed to prevent sole-source/vendor lock-in.
How does DTV help raise capital? Is DTV a venture fund?
DTV is not a venture fund but may launch one in the future. DTV architects startups technically for SSI, positions them as market leaders in their vertical and ensures their appeal to SSI-interested investors. As co-founders, DTV also aids the fundraising process.
Having a “Big Vision” is easy with SSI. DTV helps SSI startups with the hard part: the Small Vision, the go-to-market plan that gets around the chicken/egg adoption obstacle and generates early traction without sacrificing the Big Vision.
How can DTV help existing (non-startup) organizations with SSI?
In addition to helping SSI-based startups, DTV provides expert SSI advisory and training for existing organizations*. We can help:
- Re-architect technology and product strategy for SSI
- Develop an open source strategy
- Design industry-specific protocols and algorithms
- Conduct SSI training, from basics to master class
*DTV offers advisory services on a limited basis to help drive adoption of SSI.
Why is architecting correctly for SSI so critical?
Architecting SSI products without adequate expert consideration of possible security, privacy, and performance ramifications is risky, both for the startup and its clients.
Architected correctly, SSI-enabled products deliver breakthroughs in security, privacy, efficiency and user experience that can delight customers, reduce costs, enhance compliance and bring significant competitive advantages.
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Why should entrepreneurs partner with DTV?
While SSI has global momentum at the lower layers of the stack, the biggest opportunity now is at the application layer, for strong, vertically-focused products that deliver SSI’s promises into the hands of end users.
DTV is ideally experienced to help entrepreneurs with the challenges and opportunities unique to SSI. We know success, failure, and how to design and execute a go-to-market plan that will work.
If you’re an SSI entrepreneur, let’s talk.