Welcome to the Web3 ID Coalition’s Member Spotlight Series, where we highlight the groundbreaking work of our current members!
Today, we’re sharing the story of Verified Inc., a network that powers a marketplace for digital identity. Verified Inc. empowers companies to issue and accept digital ID cards, cultivating one-click verification experiences for their users and partners.
We recently spoke with Liam McCarty, Verified Inc. Founder and CEO, about the impact of digital identity on privacy and security.
1. How do you explain Verified Inc. in simple terms?
You know how your plastic VISA credit card enables instant payment? We do something similar, but for signing up rather than making a payment. Our digital ID cards enable one-click signup across the web.
VISA credit cards work because of the VISA network of companies: banks issue credit cards to people like you and me, and merchants accept those cards so we can easily pay for things.
Our Verified network works similarly: companies who have already verified who you are can issue you a digital ID card, and you can use that card to one-click sign up for new services. Your digital ID card contains all your information, so you can control what you share.
Credit cards completely transformed payments. (It’s difficult to imagine life today without instant payment!) Our goal is to transform signup in the same way. You should be able to share all the information you need with one click, so you never have to fill out a form again.
2. How did you get started in the digital identity space? Share your back story.
I run Verified Inc. with my brother, Aidan. When we were students at Stanford, we built civic engagement tools that let people contact government officials. A big problem was preventing bots and foreign actors from posing as constituents. The political industry of “astroturfing” — creating fake grassroots movements — had grown far worse with the advent of digital tools.
So we built identity verification into our civic engagement tools, and we got very good at verifying that someone was a real person. But soon, we realized that nearly every sector had the same challenge of verifying identity online, and we knew it was only going to get more difficult. The rise of generative AI is the best recent example — without a robust digital identity system, we will have no way of verifying human identity online.
3. We often think and talk about digital identity cards in terms of their business use cases. How can digital identity cards benefit individuals as well?
Aren’t you sick of filling out forms? I certainly am! With digital ID cards, you’ll be able to one-click share all the information you need, without needing to fill out those endless, redundant forms.
I like to think about innovation from the perspective of what my grandkids will take for granted — what they will laugh about when looking back at the olden days of 2023. I hope they grow up in a world where it’s simply unthinkable that people had to fill out the same form hundreds of times from scratch. In the same way I can’t imagine typing in a URL character by character, I hope they can’t imagine filling out sign-up forms over and over again.
4. In your mind, what is the most pressing issue facing the development and proliferation of web3 identities?
It’s a collective incentive problem. Everyone knows a robust digital identity system would secure and supercharge the digital economy. But building one requires aligning the incentives of a huge range of actors, so they can work together in a way that benefits the group and each individual.
We think a VISA-type network is one way to solve this problem. VISA aligns incentives across a vast range of banks, merchants, and consumers — and the result is infrastructure for instant payments.
5. What is one project you are currently working on that excites you the most?
We have a super cool new product launching soon called Verified Phone that will keep you safe from SIM swap attacks (one of the most dangerous modern attacks on 2FA systems). You can sign up for the waitlist here.
We’re also excited about our ever popular Verified Email product, which is growing virally and has over 28K verified users. It lets you verify who’s sending you emails so you can focus on messages from real people, not bots. You can try that out using my personal referral link.
6. What can we expect from Verified Inc. in the next six months? Where will you be in three years?
VISA began as BankAmericard, a newfangled plastic rectangle available only in Fresno, CA. It quickly grew into one of the most important organizations in the world, and it remains one to this day.
We are in the BankAmericard phase, but we’re growing so fast we can barely keep up. Join our mailing list to stay updated!
7. What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Web3 ID Coalition?
We hope to help solve the collective incentive problem! Digital identity will transform society — it’s critical infrastructure for the future. The Web3 ID Coalition is an extremely important interface between private companies like ours and public entities that can play a major role in making digital identity systems happen.
Many thanks to Liam for sharing Verified Inc.’s digital identity solutions, and for chatting with us about the future of web3 security! Be sure to check out this space in the coming months for more Member Spotlights, as we’ll continue to profile innovative organizations dedicated to advocating for public policy that paves the way for secure, portable, and trusted digital identities.