Imagine a world where 40,000 screaming fans are packed shoulder to shoulder in a stadium where their favorite teams clash in head-to-head combat, and everyone knows that everyone else has been vaccinated against Covid-19. Businesses have opened their doors to something that resembles business as usual, only their employees have all proved their own vaccination, as has every customer who enters the building. That’s the world Civic Technologies is working to build, and the world the company today took a big step towards making real.
The San Francisco-based startup that raised $43 million in a 2017 initial coin offering, similar to an IPO, has formed a partnership with Circle Medical, a well-connected affiliate of UCSF Health, a San Francisco hospital, that will let employees prove to their employers the results of their most recent Covid-19 tests, and when a vaccine is developed, whether or not they’ve received it. Far from a theoretical blockchain application that might be of value at some future date, the app, which lets users prove a wide range of personal information, as well as spend bitcoin, ether, a version of the U.S. dollar issued on the ethereum blockchain, and Civic’s own token is available today on both Apple’s App Store and Google Play.
While such a concentration of private information in the hands of any government or company will almost certainly trigger cries of a dystopian invasion of privacy, Civic uses technology similar to bitcoin to prove that only one person is in control of the credential at a time without needing to share any unnecessary information about that individual. Not even who they are. “You don’t have to transmit your name, or anything like that,” says Vinny Lingham, 41, founder and CEO of Civic. “So you can walk into a stadium anonymously like you do today, but just prove that as you walk through the gates that you’d been vaccinated.”
Users download the app from either app store, create a 3D face map using a video recording, and verify email and phone number. They then upload a government issued identification which is verified using artificial intelligence and stored in the digital wallet. Unlike a traditional drivers license, users can prove their age without having to share other personally identifiable information such as address and weight. Similar to bitcoin, which is only in one place at a time, these IDs only exist on the user’s phone, and not even Civic has access to the information without the owner’s permission.
With more than 100,000 people signed up on the waiting list, the app, which quietly went live Monday has already been downloaded more than 12,000 times.
Instead of replacing existing credential providers, such as the U.S. Department of Motor Vehicles or…