SoftBank Backs Mobile Carriers’ Blockchain ID Effort – Mobile ID World

SoftBank Backs Mobile Carriers’ Blockchain ID Effort – Mobile ID World

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SoftBank, the Japanese multinational known for its major technology investments, has announced a partnership with TBCASoft that will focus on the development of a blockchain-based digital ID to be used by telecoms.

SoftBank Backs Mobile Carriers' Blockchain ID Effort

Carrier-led Blockchain Innovation

TBCASoft leads a consortium of global mobile carriers called the Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG) founded in 2017. The primary objective of CBSG is to foster collaboration among its members to leverage blockchain technology in creating innovative and secure applications and services. These efforts are focused on addressing common challenges within the telecom sector, such as enhancing mobile financial services, ensuring secure and transparent cross-border transactions, improving supply chain management, and streamlining roaming and connectivity services.

Members of the CBSG include Sprint, LG Uplus, and KT Corporation.

The group has now announced a new “Identification & Authentication” working group under the CBSG that will focus on a “CrossCarrier Identification System” (CCIS). The aim is to leverage blockchain technology and zero-knowledge proof cryptography to establish encrypted digital identities that do not rely on a centralized custodian of personal data.

Leveraging Blockchain and Cryptography

Blockchain technology functions like a highly secure, decentralized record-keeping system. Essentially, it is an extensive, incorruptible digital ledger that’s maintained across numerous computers. Each entry in this ledger is linked and encrypted, ensuring both security and traceability. Zero-knowledge proof cryptography, on the other hand, is a method that allows one party to prove their identity or possession of certain information to another party without revealing the actual information.

When applied to digital identities, these technologies enable the creation of secure and verifiable IDs that don’t require a centralized authority, like a government agency or a bank, to validate or store personal information. Instead, the blockchain acts as a distributed and transparent validator, ensuring the authenticity of an individual’s identity through cryptographic proofs.

This approach significantly reduces the risk of data breaches and fraud, as personal data isn’t centralized in one vulnerable location.

SoftBank’s Big Bet

In a statement, SoftBank VP Takeshi Fukuizumi explained that the new working group believes that “individuals should create encrypted digital identities, instead of using and storing multiple passwords” across various databases.

“We have been working with TBCASoft on solving identification and authentication problems, and have an answer with CCIS,” Fukuizumi added. “We believe that telecom operators under the CBSG Consortium will play very important roles in the global identity business.”

SoftBank earned its reputation as a major investor in technology through the investment strategies of its founder, Masayoshi Son. This reputation is largely anchored in the establishment of the SoftBank Vision Fund, launched in 2017, which became one of the world’s largest technology-focused venture capital funds, with over $100 billion in capital.

The fund’s aggressive investments in a wide range of technology sectors, including artificial intelligence, robotics, internet services, and renewable energy technologies, positioned SoftBank at the forefront of technological innovation. High-profile investments in companies like Alibaba, Uber, and WeWork, despite some notable setbacks, showcased SoftBank’s willingness to bet big on companies that it has identified as future leaders.

Its partnership with TBCASoft – while not an Vision Fund investment – suggests that SoftBank’s leadership see blockchain-based digital ID as an area of considerable promise.

March 11, 2024 – by Alex Perala

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