Coming Soon: Self-Sovereign Digital Identity for Refugees
Gravity Earth is a company that is helping refugees in Africa by introducing a blockchain-based platform that allows them to prove their identity which in turn can help them gain access to financial services.
Digital Identity on the Blockchain
Gravity is a Nairobi-based startup has introduced a self-sovereign digital identity wallet that allows everyone to build a trusted identity profile based on correct personal data. This might be a game changer to refugees that don’t have any of proving their identity.
Gravity Earth presented its project at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin where the Startup was able to paint a clear picture of how blockchain can be used to enable refugees to access funds and different assets to improve their living standards.
Gravity was founded by Johannes Ebert, Laurent Salat and Paul Langlois-Meurinne. They worked together to develop a system that allows personal digital data to be stored securely on its decentralized platform. The data can then be used to help NGOs working at refugee camps that usually have millions of refugees.
The startup already started working to deploy its platform at a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya with about 80,000 people. The test run will be held at three schools in the camp allowing gravity to track daily attendance and student’s academic performance. According to Johannes Ebert, the rollout will be based on biometric data, and with the help of teachers who will be uploading performance and test data via a web app.
“Everyone in the camps is basically an unknown person, so every piece of information known about them gains a lot of value. That could be tracking attendance in school or basic identity such as age, the number of kids in the household, languages are spoken, etc.”
The company will also develop a close relationship with NGOs to be able to track other data and indicators that can have a positive impact on the living conditions of refugees in the camp.
To overcome the challenges of data collecting and management the Gravity team devised a technique that allows third parties to provide and validate data on users. This technique will incentivize validators with different rewards like lotteries or free mobile airtime. This will also provide data that helps Gravity establish an identity proof through a network of validators.
Ebert goes on explaining:
“Trust is built and identity is validated through the community, so being able to capture claims being made by, for example, a village chief is very interesting. How is this person connected in the network? How many people have validated them, etc.?”
In practice, this requires users to be educated on granting third-parties access to their data, and that can be quite challenging. With a network of validators within the camp, the company can then head on to the next stage which is to connect the platform to third-parties, such as financial services platforms enabling refugees to access banking and financial services. Gravity will also introduce a wide range of other services in the future but for now, the company is only looking at expansion opportunities focused on Africa.
Gravity is one of the few blockchain-based startups that didn’t run an ICO. Instead, the company was able to raise undisclosed funds, and it seems it plans to raise VC capital funds in 2019 and has no intentions of running an ICO.
While the company does not use tokens, it believes its next stage will be to provide financial services for refugees which according to Ebert may come as a way to monetize and prove the startup business model.