The new remote client ID system was created by the Russian bank using the Ethereum blockchain. CoinFox spoke to Deputy Director of the bank’s IT Department for Innovation Alexander Vasilyev.

RosEvroBank announced the completion of the system’s prototype in January 2017. According to the innovations expert, remote blockchain identification will make digital payment services and trading on exchanges more transparent and accessible.

CoinFox: How did you come to the idea of using blockchain for client identification? What foreign or domestic prototypes did you have in mind creating your system?

Alexander Vasilyev: Initially, for the purpose of remote identification we tried to follow the principle of interoperability using the OpenID or OAuth protocols. With this method, the authentication required transferring not only a token but also a large amount of hashed personal data between the participants. Then, we had the problem of the guaranteed proof of ID data transfer. The most obvious tool that could help these issues was the blockchain technology. There is still not too many industrial blockchain solutions to use as an example, therefore, we were mostly guided by our previous experience of developing apps and payment services.

CF: How would the bank’s customers benefit from the implementation of the blockchain technology? How will it affect the quality of your services?

AV: On the client’s side, the application of the blockchain technology will be unobtrusive. However, even within the current legal framework, the remote identification substantially expands the amount of funds that can be transferred using, among all, an electronic payment instrument. Apart from this, the service may be of use for clients seeking access to an exchange. Even now, you already can open a brokerage account for a client using remote identification.

CF: For your prototype, you chose Ethereum. Why?

AV: Among the many blockchain platforms available today, Ethereum and Hyperledger are the most advanced in terms of industrial application (apart from Bitcoin). That is why we chose these two platforms to build our prototype on. With Ethereum, we managed to release an MVP (minimum viable product) faster, not least due to support from Microsoft as part of their DevCon School: Blockchain event.

CF: What is the role of the Microsoft Azure cloud service in your project? Will their experts provide technical support for the project or it is only about using their cloud service?

AV: Microsoft offers the Azure BaaS platform and tools for quick deployment of blockchain infrastructure for Ethereum-based projects. In addition, there is a ready-to-use template for consortiums. Apart from server virtualisation for the Ethereum VM, we plan to use Azure’s API Management, which can as well help with Open API implementation. During the pilot phase, Microsoft will provide technical support for all the project participants.

CF: These days, many Russian banks are in various ways experimenting with the blockchain technology. Meanwhile, your press release says that the blockchain identification system will allow customers to access other banks’ services. Can you name any particular partner banks?

AV: They don’t need to be only banks, other entities such as brokerage companies may also take part in the pilot project. We only consider up to five participants for the pilot, because initially, we will need to have direct agreements between the participants concerning client identification. In the future, the legal coverage for the project may take the form of an accession agreement between members of a non-profit organisation or consortium.