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Reimagining Startup and Enterprise Innovation

How Refugees Sparked this Startup to Solve the Enterprise Identity Crisis

Amy Sorrells
Global Communications, Oracle for Startups

In the spring of 2016, technologists Karyl Fowler and Orie Steele entered Austin’s first blockchain hackathon contest aimed at solving mobility challenges which drew project topics from smart parking apps to addressing social mobility barriers. At the time, thousands of refugees were pouring into Europe with no means to identify themselves. Government organizations had no integrated way to validate and track identities across the variety of disparate systems they use to manage the asylum process, complicating an already massive humanitarian crisis. So, Fowler and Steele built an identity management application for refugees that was user-centric, secure and traceable.

That application won them the hackathon... and sparked an idea that led them to found their startup Transmute, which today is focused on solving the identity crisis that plagues the enterprise.  

Transmute is a user-centric identity management platform for enterprises. Think of it as an identity management application UI—that safely and securely bridges centralized and decentralized technologies. The blockchain-based solution enables secure and automated end-to-end traceability to provide for:

1.     Establishing unique identities for people, entities and things -

2.     using these IDs to create claims and verifiable credentials,

3.     and combine these to power authorized business workflows.

Why Focus on Identity?

So why identity? Well, as Karyl often argues, “much like the gene or the atom, identity is the basic building block from which all software applications are built.” Every single minute across the globe, millions of identities are connecting to create all manner of transactions, from basic human authentications for refugees, to logistics transactions along a complex enterprise supply chain.

“Identity is the common denominator of all interactions,” said Karyl Fowler, CEO & Cofounder, Transmute. “Companies, their employees, vendors, customers and even devices must be able to efficiently establish identity, selectively and securely share parts of their identity as it relates to the transaction at hand, and defend their identities and related actions in an indisputable way.”

Companies face unprecedented security challenges when it comes to centralized infrastructure, but rip-and-replace is costly and often times unfeasible. “Futhermore, existing solutions often insert more friction between companies and their customers – at a time when both building trust with customers and evolving business models to support the most connected consumers to have existed are critical to retaining market share,” says Karyl. Transmute helps solve this challenge by bridging the gap between centralized and decentralized technologies.

How Transmute Benefits the Enterprise

More than 80% of data breaches can be directly attributed to mismanaged identity and access. Companies need a way to continue operating at scale and achieve a complete view of their customers, partners and users – while drastically minimizing the risk of data breaches.

“Companies are scrambling to find better ways to defend themselves from a data breach and comply with emerging regulations like GDPR and CA Consumer Privacy Act. Transmute customers can have confidence they are meeting current regulations…and future proofing themselves for what’s to come.”

The company’s core technology, Transmute ID, augments a company’s existing infrastructure by integrating with whatever IDP and storage solution you already use, and then offering extended functionality [like automated, granular traceability and consent management] that only decentralized identities (DIDs) can offer. Fowler says that companies that empower their users with Transmute ID gain access to revenue spreads that are currently lost on administrative inefficiencies and unclear disputes of liability.

Here’s how Transmute ID can benefit two key industries:

  • Supply Chain Logistics: Supply chain and logistics industries can use managed DIDs and verifiable credentials to digitize and optimize their chains of custody. Truck drivers, shippers and carriers are required to expose a variety of identity credentials at several points across the supply chain. It’s slow, manual and massively inefficient with all parties relying on different systems to manage their part in this process. Transmute ID integrates with existing systems to create a single source of truth that spans shippers, brokers, carriers, drivers, vehicles, and devices.

  • Health & Medical Records: The laborious medical records process can be digitized seamlessly and securely. With Transmute ID, patients can authenticate themselves digitally and manage their own health data in a secure and compliant format, while also having the ability to selectively share and revoke access to their data. Doctors and providers can do the same, including correlating identities as required to the patients they serve.

Pioneering Experts at the Front Lines of Innovation

There is nothing simple about innovating in this fast-moving, dynamic space. Transmute has a front-row seat as a member of the Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF), a consortium developing the foundations of an open, standards-based, decentralized identity ecosystem.

“Two groups within DIF are developing DID Layer 2 networks for two different chains (Bitcoin and Ethereum) using the Sidetree protocol. Microsoft is primarily focused on the Bitcoin variant, while Transmute is leading the charge on developing an Ethereum version,” said Daniel Buchner, founding member of DIF and global lead for decentralized identity at Microsoft.

The Partnership with Oracle

Transmute joined Oracle’s startup program in the fall of 2018 and have been working closely with Oracle on the technology as well as business development and marketing ever since.

“Exposure to Oracle customers was a big draw for us to the program—and it hasn’t disappointed. We recently attended Open World Singapore and it was hands down the most successful event Transmute has ever attended in terms of customer traction,” said Fowler.

Transmute is leveraging several Oracle Cloud solutions including Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, Blockchain and Kubernetes.  From an integration standpoint, Transmute’s solution enhances and complements Oracle’s Blockchain and Identity Management services.

“We leveraged the Oracle Blockchain Platform as a rapid ideation and testing tool, resulting in 30% faster deployment. The managed blockchain-as-a-service helped our engineers focus on chaincode development, testing and integration, instead of DevOps.”

Fowler says the rise of distributed ledger technology (DLT) is inevitable, and the shift to more decentralized business models is going to be as disruptive to the enterprise as the transition to cloud computing. She believes that Transmute will be leading that transition and helping enterprises across the globe solve this identity management crisis.

“The team at Oracle is truly invested in our success and it shows in their committed partnership and resources. It’s refreshing to see this level of entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to startups at such a large corporation,” said Fowler. “Oracle team members have been pivotal in evolving our business model since we joined forces. We look forward to a long partnership innovating with Oracle.”

JOIN ORACLE FOR STARTUPS: Sign up to receive free Oracle Cloud credits, plus access to business enablement and marketing resources for your startup. 

 

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