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Making it personal

Nov 20, 2012 by Dave Kearns

SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication was created in 1973 as a cooperative within the financial community with the mission of creating a shared worldwide data processing and communications link and a common language for international financial transactions. It should need stating, but I will: this activity involves the secure exchange of proprietary data while ensuring its confidentiality and integrity.  Through the end of September this year, SWIFT had handled 3,424,307,411 messages – that’s over 18 million a day, and the totals continue to grow.

In 2009, SWIFT Launched Innotribe to enable collaborative innovation in financial services. Innotribe brings together strategists, business and technology leaders, trend-setters and trend-watchers, and thinkers interested in taking action and shaping the future. Innotribe events facilitate collaborative innovation – exploration and understanding of new trends and their impacts, as well as idea generation and solutions shaping.

Every year Sibos, facilitated and organized by SWIFT for the SWIFT community, brings together influential leaders from financial institutions, market infrastructures, multinational corporations and technology partners to do business and shape the future of the financial industry. Sibos Osaka was held at the end of October this year.

At the Osaka meeting, Innotribe unveiled the results of the Digital Assets Grid (DAG) project, a project to bring the institution-to-institution messaging of SWIFT down to a peer-to-peer system. The project was undertaken with the cooperation of the Respect Network (mentioned in the last issue, and winner of the EIC Privacy award in 2011), Ctrl-Shift and Kynetx. Phil Windley, CEO of Kynetx (and co-founder of the Internet Identity Workshop) gave one of the  best explanations of the work:

“While many of us share digital assets every day and store them on various Web sites, these are, for the most part, assets of low value or low consequence. Few of us would feel safe conducting a complex banking transaction on Twitter or Facebook. In contrast, the DAG would provide a way of conducting transactions involving any high-consequence digital asset on the open Internet but with Swift-grade security and privacy. The DAG is conceived as a set of services built on top of the open, standards-based Internet. Swift is working on the DAG to position banks as platforms upon which online services can be built.”
Innotribe also commissioned a video, called “Slices of Life,” which shows how the DAG could affect real people in their daily lives. You should take a look. I’ll wait until you’re finished.

Finished? Great, now you understand how transformative this project can, and will, be. Will be, because the trust necessary for it to be successful is ingrained in SWIFT, an organization who perfected risk management before we had a term for that practice.

Respect Networks CEO Gary Rowe (formerly president of the Burton Group) said of the project: “The Respect Network’s mission of building a trusted network for personal data exchange and SWIFT’s vision for the Digital Asset Grid for safe sharing of all types of digital assets are perfectly aligned.” Respect Networks founder Drummond Reed offered a presentation of a DAG prototype project, the “Forever cloud address book,” as part of the introduction at Sibos. Again, you ought to watch this, it’s important.

Respect Networks was involved in another introduction at Sibos when Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Privacy Commissioner, released a new white paper, “Privacy by Design and the Emerging Personal Data Ecosystem.” It features case studies of the personal data vault (PDV) and platform of Washington D.C.- based Personal Inc., and the personal data network of Respect Networks and was specifically released in conjunction with the announcement of the Digital Assets Grid. You can watch Dr. Cavoukian’s presentation here.

The Personal Data Ecosystem (PDE) goes hand-in-glove with the emerging API economy which my colleague Craig Burton has written about so extensively (see, for example, “Identity in a Post-PC Era”).

AS Dr.  Cavoukian describes it:

“The Personal Data Ecosystem (PDE) is the emerging landscape of companies and organizations that believe individuals should control their personal data, and who make available a growing number of tools and technologies to enable this. Aside from legal requirements, the starting premise of the PDE is that individuals control the sharing of their own ‘official record,’ (also called a ‘golden record’) and set the rules as to who can access and use their personal information for what purposes. In this way the individual becomes the central point of data integration, and individuals always have the ability to extract their data and take it wherever they wish.”
It’s nice when others climb on the bandwagon with you – even if it’s been 10 years since I climbed aboard (but I did get to pick the best seat!). Back in 2002, in a column called “The need for a personal directory,” I wrote:
“What I'm envisioning is something like the personal directory, stored and controlled by each user on their own platform, but linked to the larger, worldwide directory tree (or trees, using some sort of federated technology). Access controls - just like those on the objects and attributes on existing directory trees - would be used to determine which information was shared and with whom it was shared.

Through the use of encryption technology, the information could be replicated to one or more storage areas throughout the network so that the user could access it from any platform.

Secure encryption would insure that the actual storage sites wouldn't matter - only the user could unlock the data. There'd also be no need for Internet vendors to keep data such as shipping and billing addresses, or credit card numbers because these would be instantly available with each new order - and would be (hopefully) more correct and up to date than information stored at the vendor's site for months or years.”

The personal directory, the API economy, the Persona Data Ecosystem and the Digital Assets Grid. As it says in the Old Testament (Ecclesiastes 1:9): “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”


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Dave Kearns
Senior Analyst
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