Shyft Network’s journey has, so far, been incredible. We’ve had the opportunity to work with heads of state, international organizations, top business leaders, and the most influential blockchain companies around the world. As we continue on our path to the next milestone, we decided to take a step back and reflect on our audience: on those who follow us and look forward to our weekly posts and newsletters.
Most of our communications are quite technical, and as more and more people join our community, a good high-level view of what Shyft Network is all about is long overdue.
In this post, I’ll cover the why, what, and how of Shyft Network from a non-technical perspective, in order to help supporters understand what Shyft Network is working on and our just cause.
It’s time to Shyft the way we transact and manage data
Shyft Network is a blockchain protocol designed to aggregate and embed trust and validation into data across open parties transacting on the web and private permissioned networks, e.g.,enterprise intranets. By allowing and incentivizing individuals and enterprises to work together to add context to data, Shyft Network unlocks the ability to build authentic digital reputation, identity, and creditability frameworks.
You can look at having a Shyft ID as akin to having a EU passport. While it contains your name, date of birth, etc., what matters, and generates certainty in the veracity or creditability of its contents, is the fact that it was issued by a recognized “Trust Anchor”; in this case, the state department of a member of the EU. When the document is presented, the bearer is not asked to provide further proof that the data is correct or that the document is true, as it has unique verifiable characteristics. Similarly, on the Shyft Network, a user with an identity-related attestation, or validation, from a recognized Trust Anchor needs not to present proof of the validity of his or her identity, as this has already been validated by a recognized third party. The main difference is that the passport presents a data theft risk to the bearer, while the attestation doesn’t. This is a key pillar of our value proposition.
Shyft Network enables business-as-usual and conventional structures on decentralized network environments. We designed a system that leverages blockchain technology to enable users to obtain, store, and work with data and identity quickly and securely. We have combined technology and distributed ledgers with the strength of cryptographic systems to innovate and optimize how data is shared in an increasingly digitized global multi-stakeholder world.
Our principal motivation when we developed the identity features of Shyft Network was to be proactive instead of reactive in our approach. As such, we’ve created a platform that respects these key ideals:
1. Consumers come first. All actions regarding the transfer and approval of data transfer are done with the informed consent of the consumer.
2. The cost to the consumer must be minimal, including the commitment to set up accounts. Message-construction must satisfy an absolute minimum requirement to perform its purpose. In the case of transactional exchanges, a “stamp of authenticity” to a particular (pseudonymous) account is placed by an institution (in our vernacular, a “Trust Anchor”). This account now has (with the creation of a layer we’ve called a “Trust Channel” that is managed by the aforementioned Trust Anchors) a transactional flow channel associated with it. This leverages any existing coalitions between Trust Anchors, and allows for a malleable construction of these Trust Channels based on a number of parameters.Transferability of these identification points will be as secure as possible.
To be clear, and we cannot stress this enough: there is to be no transmission of actual consumer data on the blockchain layer. All data transmissions shall follow GDPR and other jurisdictional requirements on user privacy, data transmission, and consent-first transmission methodologies.
3. Interoperability: we are design agnostic, and we are only as strong as the strength of our networks. We are seeking to innovate, but also optimize existing ways of sharing data regardless of what kind of platform people are using to transact.
How does Shyft Network work?
Shyft has created a layer for secure data sharing between organizations and individuals with 5 key features:
- Attestation Highway: Shyft Network allows for interoperable checkpointing. Think of it like an interstate highway where stamps or “attestations” of encrypted data tags prove (and drive) the transfer of the existence of trusted data.
- Non-Custodial: The network and all players transacting on the network do not touch, transfer, or access private data. Shyft Network is simply a highway of encrypted proofs that denote that data, consent, or information exists on the network.
- Option for Sharing Data Off-Chain: If two parties the Shyft Network ecosystem wish to transfer data directly and go beyond simply the attestation or “stamp” of approval, they can do so off-chain in a private channel. We’re partnering with companies that can provide this encrypted channel for our use cases.
- Consent Frameworks: Easy for organizations to obtain consent from data owners directly or Trust Anchors who are acting on behalf of data owners.
- Increased Security: A highway that runs on proofs that data and information exist, and reduces costs and security liabilities as there is less replication of data and instead simply evidence that data exists. This framework can easily be incorporated into any system, strengthening incentives for people to properly handle data in transit as there is now a system agnostic and interoperable accountability trail.
There are 5 major players that create a Shyft Ecosystem:
- Trust Anchors: A Trust Anchor is an entity or enterprise that holds customer data, must keep customer data secure, or serve as a party that can validate the accuracy of data. For instance, a bank that holds my passport, or a cybersecurity firm that checks my identity before allowing me to transact on a new platform. Trust Anchors can cross-share data sensitive requirements, create data sharing procedures and standards of conduct that satisfy their frameworks. Ultimately, the purpose is to be able to adapt requirements based on geographical differences, and maintain, for example, GDPR privacy rules.
- User Identity Verification and Onboarding Companies: Companies responsible for onboarding identities into the network and perform document verification functions.
- Blockchain Analytics Companies: Companies that provide blockchain data and analysis to government agencies, exchanges, and financial institutions, e.g., compliance and investigation tools that support customers obtain visibility into transactions and activity on the blockchain.
- Encrypted Data Transfer Rails: Companies that provide Trust Channels that connect to the network and facilitate the transfer of trusted data between enterprises, when actual data transfer or documents being transferred are required.
- Data Consumers: Companies that require data, and need consent to obtain it.
What does this look like in the real world?
I’ll use myself as an example. For 2020, I decided one of my goals was to start investing in the stock market, so I went to my bank to open a self-directed brokerage account. Now, I have been banking with my bank for over 10 years, have chequing, savings, and credit accounts, and solid credit rating with them. However, I still had to go through an entire KYC process to open my brokerage account. Which meant another department, at the same institution, processing and custodying a copy of my drivers license and my passport, and then taking 1–2 business days to verify and approve my account.
In a Shyft world, the department opening my account would have been able to request confirmation of my identity from the banking side of the organization without having to replicate copies of my data. The brokerage department would have received a stamp of approval which any regulator could see - and request, should my account ever be flagged for malevolent activity. Furthermore, I would have access to an audit trail, showing which institution is storing my data. In the event of a breach or hack, I would have an accountability trail. In the event that my data needs to be shared with a regulator or additional department or institution, I would be able to consent to this distribution.
We at Shyft Network believe in thoughtful collaboration, and have designed our network as a response to where we think the world is going. We are not changing the way digital identity (DID) and decentralized identity specs work — we think that the open source community did a great job at this. We are simply making sure that, at a framework level, there is a means for identity interoperability across the board. An identity infrastructure that functions across both open (public) and private (permissioned) systems is paramount to the success, innovation, and optimization of distributed ledger technology, and for the success of all industries in an increasingly multi-stakeholder digitized world.
This piece was written by Suzanne Ennis, SVP of Global Partnerships of Shyft Network.
Shyft Network aggregates trust and contextualizes data to build an authentic reputation, identity, and creditability framework for individuals and enterprises.
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