The time is ripe for digital identity and SSI: Necker Ventures

We’ve recently spoken with our friends and investors at Necker Ventures Juan Lugo and Makda Kassahun, co-managing partners — a rising angel firm in the blockchain industry. They have a diverse portfolio of investments spanning crypto, agriculture, gaming, and other sectors. To date, Necker Ventures has an average growth rate per company of 100x and $100M assets under management. They are only getting started, and we are proud to have them support our efforts towards making self-sovereign identity (SSI) a reality.

What’s your story and tell us more about your fund

Juan: At Necker, we banded together as individuals from all across the globe, and when we had a little bit of success with Bitcoin, we put our heads together and dove headfirst into all the different opportunities within the industry. Within Necker Ventures, we have folks from all walks of life. My background is in data security, my colleagues have engineering and capital management backgrounds, so we each brought our unique expertise to the table and followed what was out there.

Why did Necker Ventures invest in cheqd?

Juan: In my opinion, individuals didn’t understand how valuable their data was until recently. We saw this in the early millennium with the emergence of social media giants and how they capitalise on users’ data. The problem surfaces when we realise that they profit from individuals’ data by targeting specific demographic groups. The tech giants walk a thin line between morality and profitability. As we go along, the speed of digitalisation will increase (Facebook turning itself into a metaverse is just another proof), and COVID-19 was certainly its catalyst. Individuals will be more conscious about where their data is going, who stores it, and how they themselves can use it, i.e. to make a profit. That’s exactly what drew me to the cheqd’s solution.

What we collectively liked at cheqd is giving individuals back the ownership of their data through enabling digital identity. In our opinion, cheqd is far ahead of the curve, creating a self-sovereign identity (SSI) ecosystem and developing a product and service that’s going to come at a perfect time.

Makda: To expand on Juan’s point, there are other reasons to invest in the startup, such as inefficiency, that make a business case for cheqd even stronger. As an example, I used to work at health care consulting supporting the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US on verifying personally identifiable information (PII). The bureaucracy was ridiculous — often, it would take months for simple identification processes to be completed as everything had to be approved by a solicitor. Having those painful experiences, I found cheqd’s solution fascinating and urgently needed. The startup is creating this permissionless system cutting out all the bureaucracy while improving data privacy and security.

What are your most anticipated features in cheqd?

Makda: I’m excited about the core product itself and that it serves both individuals and organisations. I also think that having payment rails and a token is essential for the adoption of SSI. So having those two components coming together in a single product is a brilliant idea.

What’re your final thoughts on the current development of the SSI industry?

Juan: The likes of data leaks and hacks serve as a good vector exposing the security gaps, which, I believe, will be a catalyst for the mass adoption of digital identity and SSI. cheqd’s a very collaborative approach to building a trusted/ authentic data economy is game-changing. We’ll see their impacts on the macro level in 5–10 years.

We saw many positive developments from a wider crypto regulatory perspective — take El Salvador, Tanzania, Argentina, and Mexico. Chinese crypto ban seems to be an attempt to manipulate market assumptions. I think those that have been around long enough seeing the Chinese ban know that they’re going to unban it. They’re just trying to play the long game making sure they capitalise on crypto as much as possible before the mass adoption.

The overall trend is positive on all levels — individuals’ appreciation and desire to own their own data, regulatory developments both in data privacy and crypto, and technological developments that can support those demands ensure the need for SSI. And while some may see self-sovereign identity as a niche concept, we’re confident it will hit mass adoption reasonably soon.

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