Posted on February 15, 2019 by staff

The start-up looking to make smartphones redundant


Using a phone to prove your identity is not a technology that is fit for the future, according to a tech start-up which intends to eradicate ‘logging in’.

Dave Rowley, director of new products and partnerships at ObjectTech, says doing so is increasingly unsafe.

The cyber security company, which is based in London and Wales, is looking to replace numerous digital profiles with a single, user-owned ‘digital locker’.

“The amount of times you have to prove who you are in a given week gets increasingly frustrating for customers and undermines their confidence,” Rowley explained to BusinessCloud.

“The way identity and data is managed today, in a centralised and siloed manner, is not fit for the next five to 20 years.”

Rowley wants biotechnology such as fingerprints and retina scanners to replace passwords and email addresses, reducing the need to rely on phones to prove who you are.

He hopes the company’s tech could allow users to enter buildings, walk through airports and apply for new banking services without the need for a wallet or phone.

“You can start to think of a world where a phone isn’t important at all, it’s your person,” he said.

“It’s about never being questioned about your identity because there is no doubt that you are who you are, and reaping the benefits of that in a seamless way.”

The company’s central aim is to curb the need to hand over personal information to businesses and organisations in order to authenticate yourself.

“You are your identity, not your phone. Yourself is the best way of proving who you are,” he said.

“We want to avoid holding information on a phone because that’s a very weak point when it comes to security and privacy.”

Rowley cited the likes of Facebook and Google, which like almost all businesses hold a copy of a user’s personal data in order to let them log in and access services.

However ObjectTech will not have access to the user’s information and Rowley said it has no desire to monetise it.

Such is the case with its work on airport hubs, which it aims to have working by the end of 2020.

“Users can permission the border control authority to have access, as you would anyway when sharing passport information,” he explained.

“As you get off the plane your identity is verified through the biometric camera.

“This means there’s no need for a passport gate, for instance, and queuing at border control.”

The company plans to build revenue from building the infrastructure and a per-traveller royalty fee. Airports pay up to $12 to process every traveller.

Rowley hopes that the increased safety for passengers, and the increased speed of authentication at airports, will make it a ‘win-win’ for customer and airport authorities alike.

The company’s global ambitions are on target. It already has 80 countries on board with its technology, which it is developing at its new home at the London Office For Rapid Cybersecurity Advancement (LORCA).

While primarily a tech company, ObjectTech’s success depends just as much on meeting and exceeding regulatory safety standards, Rowley said.

“This goes beyond the technical. We want to be at the forefront of the ISO standards around identity and privacy.”

To truly reach global users, it is also working with NGOs around the world to provide a digital identity for those without one.

“A billion people on our planet don’t have an official identity and there are huge limitations that come with that,” Rowley said.

The company’s greatest hurdle is ensuring that users are receptive and trusting of the idea of decentralised technology, and a global identity system.

“We don’t want to be an island in this space,” he said. “That’s why we’re ISO driven. It will empower people to take back control of their identity and be the ones that have full control over who has access to what and when.”