In this written interview, we introduce cheqd and talk about how to bring Self Sovereign Identity (SSI) to Cosmos & beyond.
Q1: What is cheqd, and what does it hope to accomplish for Web3?
A: cheqd is a market-leading technology company enabling individuals and organisations to take full control of their data. It provides payment rails, customisable commercial models and governance structures for trusted data, including self-sovereign identity (SSI). Based on blockchain technology, cheqd is built upon a public permissionless network with a dedicated token – $CHEQ.
By developing a fully decentralised identity solution that safeguards personal privacy, cheqd meets Web3 principles of decentralisation, openness and interoperability, as well as user-centricity. As a result, Web3 won’t be possible without a digital identity solution that is fully in line with the above requirements.
Q2: For non-crypto natives, what does cheqd plan to bring to the user experience of crypto, and what will be its main applications?
A: Individuals everywhere are coming to understand that there is no such thing as “free” pricing. The data that corporations and organisations hold on them not only defines their experience online but creates massive financial returns that users rarely benefit from. The lack of transparency regarding how organisations utilise data has a direct impact on people’s justified worries about the privacy and security of their data. Personal data has become a trap.
cheqd brings simplicity, ease and fairness by inverting existing models of data ownership. We’re building a secure network that enables individuals and organisations to control their personal data fully.
As a technology scale-up company, cheqd provides a market-leading solution for data ownership and value creation. The platform delivers first-of-its-kind payment rails, customisable commercial models and governance structures for trusted (also referred to as authentic) data, including self-sovereign identity (SSI). SSI is a method of identity that centres the control of information around the user. You, as a user, will be fully in charge of your data and decide how, when and who to share it with.
Q3: What are the differentiating features of cheqd, and how does it differ from other projects with a similar mission?
A: In short, focusing on interoperability and portability – the utilisation of information and services without users losing control of the information they shared – and through SSI technology, cheqd provides companies with the most effective way of managing digital identity that could be applied across sectors. In line with the decentralised, open and user-centric aspects of Web3, SSI removes the need to store personal information entirely on a central database, giving individuals greater control over what information they share and safeguarding their privacy.
If we were to expand, we can group our key features into the following categories.
Easily accessible common and public infrastructure
Most SSI blockchain ID projects are private permissioned, and we want to change this to public permissionless. Our core hypothesis is that self-sovereign identity needs commercial models that accelerate its adoption. We’re providing a common and public infrastructure easily accessible to anyone and any organisation with payment rails between issuers, holders, and receivers of trusted data.
Standards, compliance and interoperability focus
Unlike a lot of other projects, we have deep expertise in digital identity and working with large trustworthy organisations and governments. Our CEO Fraser worked on international travel with the World Economic Forum, and Ankur, our CTO, worked with the UK government and banks on digital ID.
A lot of other projects are not compatible with the technical and legal standards for how private data should be handled, and we’re working very closely with the community to make sure ours is compliant – and therefore have better adoption
The revenue model as being unique in multiple ways
We help individuals regain control of their data and their privacy by putting them at the centre of the identity ecosystem. We help companies leverage self-sovereign identity so that they can adopt the new paradigm whilst staying viable, profitable and ultimately more successful. For data issuers, we create a recurring revenue stream for whenever data is used without them needing to process it. For data receivers, we help lower their costs since data is digital, trustable and re-usable.
Q4: Can you introduce your team to the readers? What relevant experience do they have, and what projects have inspired them in their designs?
A: Fraser Edwards (CEO & co-founder) has a deep consortium and self-sovereign identity knowledge. He’s led the Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI.org) project with the World Economic Forum and the Dutch and Canadian governments. He also has blockchain payments expertise through architecting cross-blockchain payments on the Jasper-Ubin project with the Singaporean and Canadian Central banks. Fraser has patents in cross-ledger payments. https://www.linkedin.com/in/edwardsfraser/
Ankur Banerjee (CTO & co-founder) co-invented the hyperledger blockchain automation framework and spent time as disruptive tech lead for the Accenture Fintech accelerator before joining IDWorks followed by R3 on shorter contracts. Ankur is ex-Accenture blockchain. https://www.linkedin.com/in/banerjeeankur/
Javed Khattak (CFO), Javed is an award-winning C-suite executive, a qualified actuary and a serial entrepreneur who has led multi-billion dollar funds/projects and successful ventures. He has advised governments, central banks and global brands like PwC, GSK, M&S, HSBC, and Thomson Reuters. Javed has valuable experience in structuring and scaling blockchain products. https://www.linkedin.com/in/javedkhattak/
Tobias Halloran (Head of Partnerships) has had senior leadership positions in top start-ups from Oxford University’s Computer Science department and the wider Oxford ecosystem. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tobiashalloran/
Taiwo Adeyemo (Intern) has a background in marketing, operations and customer services management. He is working closely with our partners, focused on supporting the ongoing relations we’re building. https://www.linkedin.com/in/taiwo-adeyemo/
Eduardo Hotta (Head of Marketing & Community) is a branding and demand generation expert and has led successful marketing teams in several industries, including data analytics, cyber security, and marketing automation. https://www.linkedin.com/in/hotta/
Elina Yumasheva (Communications Advisor) is a purpose-driven marketing and communications professional and an emerging artist. She brings a unique blend of technology and sustainability knowledge. https://www.linkedin.com/in/elinayumasheva/
Matthew Arnold (Community Manager) describes himself as a total tech nerd. He spent the past 12 years working in a range of development positions in the Microsoft stack. He’s also a total bird nerd! https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewarnold1985/
Alex Tweeddale (Governance Lead) has led ground-breaking identity projects for the likes of tier-1 pharmaceutical and financial services companies and the US Department of Homeland Security. He is a Co-Chair of Trust over IP Foundation’s Utility Foundry Working Group. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alex-tweeddale/
Ross Power (Product Manager) has been a leading figure in delivering blockchain and distributed ledger products (DLT), from strategy and innovation to live production products. Ross is ex-Accenture. https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosspower11/
Tasos Derisiotis (Senior Blockchain Engineer) is also an entrepreneur, technical leader and cryptocurrency and blockchain innovator. He’s been working on various scale projects in blockchain, complex microservices and applications for the past six years. https://www.linkedin.com/in/tasos-derisiotis-443818a4/
Filip Djovic (DevOps Engineer) has been in the blockchain space for a number of years, and prior to this, he worked as a penetration tester. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the team and, no doubt will contribute to the work we’re doing.
Jasdeep Singh (DevOps Engineer) has an extensive experience in cloud platforms. He is a certified AWS Solutions Architect Associate with and skilled in GCP, Digital Ocean, Cloudflare and Hetzner. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasdeep-101/
Q5: How did you achieve your funding requirements? Was it from an exclusive token sale or private funding? When was it?
A: Founded in 2021 by CEO Fraser Edwards and CTO Ankur Banerjee, cheqd is a driver for innovation backed by Outlier Ventures, Evernym, Cosmos’ Ignite and private investors, receiving a total raise of just over £2.4 million in its seed investment round.
Q6: What parts of the cheqd roadmap is the team most excited for?
A: There are so many things we’re excited about at cheqd! If we had to narrow them down, we’d go with the revocation registry and payment rails. Our next phase at cheqd will be focused on building out our approach to the revocation registry, in parallel to fleshing out the architecture for cheqd’s payment rails. Our recent mainnet upgrade paved the foundation for making them a reality. We’ll be looking for feedback on both as they become more concrete, so expect further webinars and calls over the coming months.
Q5: Why did you choose to develop on Cosmos, and how does the future of Cosmos (e.g. proposed Interchain Security) align with the future of cheqd?
A: We were looking for a set of criteria that broke down into functionals, non-functionals and execution-related requirements (see the image below).
After these clear exclusions, the choice largely boiled down to Polkadot versus Cosmos with assessments across the various requirements above. This then primarily came down to available functionality and available implementations (identity and token) and infrastructure (e.g. exchanges, custodians, etc.).
When looking at identity and token implementations and infrastructure, we felt that Cosmos was the strongest due to its long history and adoption, with many of the companies below either directly or tangentially involved in SSI. These were signposts for us that there is a valuable community to learn from and contribute back to, regardless of whether this is for a token, SSI or decentralised autonomous organisation (DAO) implementation.
Finally, We are strong believers in releasing early, often releasing and incorporating the feedback of the SSI and crypto communities as well as end-users. As a result, each option was compared against each others not just based on functional and non-functional requirements but also on delivery risk. Guess what – Cosmos won here, too.
To come full circle, we return to the currently deployed SSI projects. Although there are many existing networks in various stages of adoption, we firmly believe they will be turbocharged by adopting a new network that facilitates value transfer/payment for trusted data. To make this migration from Indy (and others) easy, we are partnering with open source projects that have modularised client-side SDKs with support for multiple DID methods/SSI networks. Our goal is to have client SDKs available (initially for iOS and Android) that are drop-in replacements for existing Hyperledger Indy client SDKs, as we expect Indycreds to be in circulation for a while. In addition, the same SDK would also support the new Cosmos-based DID method and Verifiable Credentials we plan on building as open source. Ultimately we don’t just want migration to be easy, but outright adoption of the technology by any app developer to be as simple as possible while acknowledging the current leading position Indycreds occupy in the field of SSI.
You can read more about it here: https://cheqd.io/blog/why-cheqd-has-joined-the-cosmos
Q7: What is SSI in layman’s terms, and why should people care more about it?
A: SSI or self-sovereign identity is a user-centric methodology for exchanging trusted data in a more secure manner. It safeguards privacy by removing the need to store personal information entirely on a central database and gives individuals greater control over what information they share. Unlike the existing system, it’s a user-centric and user-controlled approach to exchanging authentic and digitally signed information in a much more secure way. It is also widely believed to be the next generation of digital identities across open networks.
Q8: What is the primary use case of the cheqd token?
A: Our native utility token – $CHEQ – enables individuals to interact with organisations globally and for businesses to reap commercial benefits. In addition to data ownership mentioned above, cheqd provides individuals and companies with a real-world financial incentive to share their data.
Q9: Why should users stake $CHEQ, and can they expect additional rewards outside of staking rewards?
A: Our community believes in fully owning and controlling their personal data. Beyond staking to secure the network, $CHEQ allows holders to vote and influence the future of the network to make sure we’re working for everyone’s benefit.
Further, we’re exploring how verifiable credentials can be used to provide privacy-preserving equivalents to NFTs or SoulBound tokens (SBTs) which would go to holders. These could show when you joined the community, whether you’re a whale or not, all without having to publicise anything if you don’t wish to.
Q10: How does cheqd plan to fast-track the adoption of decentralized SSI, and what does this world with decentralized SSI look like to cheqd?
A: The adoption of SSI is key to enabling the cheqd mission of giving individuals and organisations full control of their data. This is why cheqd is building commercial models through a blockchain network on Cosmos, tokens and tokenomics. By introducing payments and other sustainable economic incentives, they will turbocharge the adoption of SSI, return control and privacy to individuals, and enable new business models for trusted data.
Q11: Are there any exciting updates, announcements, or partnerships coming up in the immediate future that you can disclose today?
A: We’re also working on digital identity use cases report for Web3 companies. Decentralised identity is developing rapidly, and we’re seeing its uptake among various sectors – from Web 3 to more traditional, from private to public. (See our recent report on SSI market size here https://cheqd.io/self-sovereign-identity-market-opportunity-report) While there is a degree of understanding of how it’s going to be adopted, we’re interested to hear from Web3 companies directly about how and when they’re planning to integrate digital identity solutions.
In terms of the recent updates, we’ve just gone live on the Universal Resolver! For those who don’t know, it is a tool run by Danube Tech that enables interoperability for DIDs across networks as well as makes it easier for developers to work with cheqd.
🆔We’ve also upgraded the mainnet. Alongside improved functionality, it brought ‘Resources’ to the cheqd ledger to manage how files such as governance frameworks but, more importantly, schemas and definitions are stored, referenced and retrieved for our partners and the broader SSI community. Additionally, this paves the foundation for:
✅ Secure on-ledger schemas
✅ Credential Definitions
✅ Full AnonCreds support on cheqd
✅ Fully referenceable documents with DIDs
⏳ Schema overlays and evidence schemes
⏳ Privacy-preserving revocation registry
Read more about our approach to Resources on-ledger here: https://blog.cheqd.io/our-approach-to-resources-on-ledger-25bf5690c975
Q12: What is the best place for the community to interact with you?
A: We have a variety of channels to join the conversation with the cheqd family and get regular communication on our progress and recent updates. Take your picks below!
- Join our Telegram:
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/cheqd_io
- Discord: https://discord.com/invite/zjNCNZRZb6
- Medium: https://blog.cheqd.io
- Youtube: http://cheqd.link/youtube
- CoinMarketCap: https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/cheqd/
- Read our latest blogs & insights: https://cheqd.io/blog
- Demystify all things SSI and verifiable credentials with ‘cheqd Learn’: https://learn.cheqd.io/
- Visit our website: https://www.cheqd.io
Q13: Why is Staking Rewards the best partner for your project?
A: Staking Rewards has an incredible reach in terms of awareness but is also an expert in staking. Their users know that they’re providing accurate information and act on it. The best example is staking rewards APY calculations are much more accurate than everyone else’s, identifying a difference of 3%. This means $CHEQ is much more attractive to stakers, just through the APY being accurate.
We have also found Staking Rewards to be the best in terms of the interface where it is by far and away better than most explorers and the information they offer to stakers.