‘Big Four’ Firm EY Begins Blockchain ID Platform Rollout

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‘Big Four’ accounting firm EY has revealed it is rolling out a new identity management platform based on blockchain tech for an Australian client.

According to EY, the platform is part of its bid to help clients better manage customer onboarding and verification, while addressing the challenges inherent in data management and privacy.

The firm told CoinDesk it has so far implemented the platform, built on the ethereum protocol, for Australia-based startup BlochExchange, which has built a blockchain-based fractional mortgage platform.

In interview, Michael Maloney, a manager in the Financial Services practice at EY, lauded the tech as some of the most viable produced so far by its internal R&D team, saying:

“It’s probably our most robust ethereum development to date. It really highlighted a lot of the promise of the ethereum network.”

Further, the project is an example of how EY believes blockchain could one day shape financial services.

Building credibility

The platform enables clients to create a customer identity using traditional know-your-customer (KYC) processes, and manages the distribution of that information to other trusted members within a blockchain environment.

Development of the platform began last November, Maloney said, and took the firm around six weeks to build.

BlochExchange CEO Andrew Coppin said the identity management tech has so far “exceeded” the company’s expectations with its ability to enable third parties to store data for verification.

“The benefits thus far have been that we have a robust system that has credibility in the market place,” he said.

“It’s also allowing us to engage on a considered basis with other large blue chip companies and give them comfort of the systems and processes we have put in place,” Coppin continued.

Future potential

Overall, EY sees blockchain as a foundational technology in need of platforms to leverage its capabilities, said Angus Champion de Crespigny, EY’s financial services, blockchain and distributed infrastructure strategy leader.

“Identity for us is very important, and we see it as one of the biggest applications [of blockchain],” he said.

While, he couldn’t provide any specific timeline for implementing the platform with other clients, de Crespigny said this is an ongoing conversation.

Even so, EY is confident in the technology and how it was developed with no major challenges on the technical side.

De Crespigny said:

“We’re doing [the rollout] now. The platform is live, it’s been proven, it’s tested.”

Further, he suggested KYC, customer onboarding and regulatory issues are key areas in which the platform is “very strong”.

In the long term, EY is also interested in developing an ‘assurance product’ around the platform, one that would ease concerns about adopting the nascent technology.

“We had to convince people that this new technology and blockchain, that it was safe, it could be audited, it was secure,” De Crespigny explained.

EY partner James Roberts added that the firm is in discussions with a number of major banks in Australia about implementing the platform, though he cautioned that these talks remain in early stages.

He said:

“We are in discussions with three of the big banks in Australia.”

ID technology image via Shutterstock

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