Spanish banks, insurers team up to offer blockchain-based digital user identity

November 5, 2020.
People gather in a bar with the skyline of Barcelona in the background. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

People gather in a bar with the skyline of Barcelona in the background. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

A group of Spanish banks and insurance companies that includes , and Mapfre said on Thursday that they have partnered to work on a digital user identity based on blockchain, an offering that is meant to offer personal-data control and simplicity when signing up for services.

A digital identity offers users convenience when signing up for services because it allows for expeditious data sharing, the companies maintain. The companies said they plan to roll out theirs by May 2021.

“Self-managed identity enables people to have their personal data in a single digital identity, backed by the companies involved and stored on their own mobile device,” the companies said. “Users may decide who to share the data with at any time in a fast, simple, secure process, in order to take up any service with no need to fill in tedious forms. For example, they may use their data validated by other organizations to hire a car, take out insurance, arrange a loan, take up an electricity service or any service they wish, in just a few clicks.”

Additional Spanish financial firms that are involved in the group include , Línea Directa Aseguradora, BME and Liberbank with 10 in total from multiple sectors.

The companies call their effort "Project Dalion." The project is derived from the Alastria consortium’s identity model. The consortium, in turn is supported by 600 partners, such as companies and academic institutions.

The digital identity is meant to offer accuracy, although its legal effects need to be reviewed, the companies said.

“Creation of a self-managed digital identity furnishes the certainty that information is reliable and has not been altered, thanks to blockchain technology,” the participants noted. “The challenge is to ensure that it has legal effects which are equivalent to the most advanced data validation and authentication processes available today.”

The participants said that digital identities will also help businesses improve their processes, the companies said, asserting that it will allow participating companies to design new business models, individually or collectively, to improve the user experience.

The group has already begun working on the new digital identity. A concept test has been wrapped up, and the companies said they “found that the solution works satisfactorily.” Demos have been done on Ethereum-Quorum blockchain infrastructures offered by the consortium, the partners said, and observers from entities including the University of Zaragoza and Alcobendas Town Hall have been involved.

A second phase will start this month, the participants said, eyeing another milestone for next May.

“This aims to complete development within the next six months, in order to roll out this solution in a real production environment in May 2021,” the companies said.