In the dynamic world of decentralized finance (DeFi), the journey has been marked by a mix of groundbreaking successes and learning curves. Yet, there is no halting the relentless pace of innovation in this sphere. Amidst this landscape of continuous evolution and adaptation stands Civic – a platform that epitomizes the new wave of DeFi solutions.
Civic emerges not just as another digital asset in the blockchain ecosystem but as a comprehensive solution addressing real-world challenges in identity verification. With its unique blend of technology, token economics, and a user-centric approach, Civic is redefining the paradigms of personal data security and utility in the digital age.
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Civic, established in 2015, is the brainchild of Vinny Lingham and Jonathan Smith, individuals with rich backgrounds in their respective fields. Lingham, a seasoned entrepreneur with a decade of e-commerce experience, also serves as a member of the Bitcoin Foundation and is renowned for his role in Shark Tank South Africa. Smith, the CTO of Civic, brings over 15 years of experience in technical analytics and management from his tenure at prestigious organizations like Deloitte and RBS.
The primary mission of Civic at its inception was to empower users to manage their identities effectively and prevent identity fraud. This led to the development of the Secure Identity Platform (SIP) and ChainAuth, their authentication mechanism, in 2017, marking Civic’s foray into revolutionizing digital identity management.
Civic’s journey in the identity verification sector saw rapid growth, adapting to a variety of use cases through technological advancements. The company introduced innovations such as token-powered KYC and Accredited Investor Checks, a groundbreaking anonymous age-verifying beer vending machine, and its marketplace, Identity, within just a year of its inception.
What is Civic?
Civic represents a dynamic array of decentralized applications (dapps) built upon the Ethereum blockchain, focusing primarily on identity verification and information requests. The ecosystem is structured around three key players: Users, Requesters, and Validators.
In this network, a User is an individual seeking to authenticate a specific aspect of their identity. For instance, a user might need to confirm their age to purchase beer. On the other hand, Requesters are entities or organizations that require a piece of identity information, such as age verification, to provide a service – like selling beer in this example.
Validators play a crucial role as trusted entities, bridging the gap between Users and Requesters. They are responsible for confirming the authenticity of the Users’ information to the Requesters. For instance, validating that a User is indeed of legal age to buy beer.
Civic places a high value on personal data privacy and control. User identities are stored locally on their mobile devices, ensuring that personal information remains under the user’s command. The use of private keys and fingerprints for transaction verification allows Users to maintain discretion over their information. This selective sharing ensures that personal details are only disclosed to the chosen parties and only the required information is shared, safeguarding user privacy.
How Does Civic Work?
Civic’s operational model is a tripartite system involving users, validators, and service providers, each playing a crucial role in the network’s functionality.
Users and the Secure Identity App
At one end of this network are the users – individuals looking to register their identity using Civic’s protocol. The process is streamlined and secured via the Secure Identity app, which can be accessed through mobile or web platforms. Users input their personal details like name, address, and various identification numbers into this app. Remarkably, the app eschews traditional usernames and passwords for multi-factor biometric security measures, such as fingerprint scans, ensuring user control and security.
Each user’s information is encrypted with a private key from a third-party wallet, creating a barrier between Civic and the users. This means Civic cannot access any personal identity information without explicit user consent. Rather than storing personal information on the blockchain, Civic keeps attestations of this information, giving users control over their sensitive data while providing proof of its authenticity.
Validators and Service Providers
On the other end are validators and service providers. Validators have the responsibility of authenticating identities on the blockchain’s distributed ledger. These verified identities are then sold to service providers who require customer identity verification, with the transaction facilitated through CVC, Civic’s native token. Civic leverages Ethereum’s blockchain and smart contracts to manage data attestation and compensation.
The Civic Identity System works as follows: when a user needs to share personal information with a service provider (like a bank or exchange), they send the required details from their Civic app to a validation contract. These smart contracts act as intermediaries, providing validators with the identity data. Upon validating the data’s authenticity, validators then hash it onto the network. In some cases, validators might also be service providers, especially for a user’s initial submission to the network. To confirm an identity, validators cross-reference the submitted information with other sources, such as public or financial records.
In 2018, Civic unveiled its marketplace, branded as Identity.com, pivoting towards a more expansive and interactive ecosystem. The marketplace, underpinned by blockchain technology and smart contracts, serves as the operational hub for the Civic ecosystem. It delineates the rules and protocols for interactions among its participants, primarily service providers, validators, and users.
The marketplace operates on a model of consensual exchange of verified identity information. Service providers and validators interact within this space, with providers purchasing access to identity data and validators selling rights to this verified information, always with the user’s explicit consent.
Consider a practical scenario: a credit scoring company (acting as the requester or service provider) needs a client’s credit history and bank account details. With the client’s agreement, the company requests this Personal Identifiable Information (PII), previously authenticated by a Validator (Identity Verifier or IdV), from the client’s Credential Wallet. The requested PII, in this instance, includes credit and bank information.
The Civic ecosystem is powered by its native cryptocurrency, the CVC token, which operates on the ERC20 standard. This token is not just a fundamental aspect of the Civic network but is also actively traded on major cryptocurrency exchanges, including Binance and Huobi.
Within the Civic ecosystem, there are two primary avenues to earn CVC tokens: becoming a Validator or a User. Validators are crucial to the Civic platform, entrusted with the responsibility of verifying the identities and attributes of users within the network. These Validators are typically reputable organizations like banks or utility providers, recognized for their credibility and reliability. For their crucial role in verification, Validators are compensated with CVC tokens.
Users, on the other hand, also have the potential to earn CVC. This is achieved when they opt to share their personal data with interested organizations. By offering access to their valuable personal information, users are rewarded with CVC tokens, creating a mutually beneficial exchange within the Civic ecosystem. This token-based incentive model is integral to maintaining active participation and ensuring the robustness of the network.
As we venture further into the future of decentralized finance, platforms like Civic are pivotal in shaping the trajectory of this evolving landscape. Civic’s innovative approach to identity verification and data security, powered by blockchain technology, sets a new standard for user privacy and control in the digital world. While the path of DeFi has been dotted with both triumphs and setbacks, initiatives like Civic underscore the potential for impactful, lasting change.
The journey of integrating blockchain with essential services like identity verification is just beginning, and Civic stands at the forefront of this revolution. As other similar platforms emerge and evolve, the promise of a more secure, efficient, and user-empowered digital ecosystem becomes increasingly tangible. The ultimate success of Civic and its peers will not only be measured by their technological prowess but also by their ability to foster trust and inclusivity in the ever-expanding digital universe.