On Wednesday (15 August 2018), Coinbase announced that it had acquired a small San Francisco-based startup called Distributed Systems, with the startup’s five employees joining Coinbase’s Identity team. 

The CEO of Distributed Systems, Nikhil Srinivasan, took to Twitter on 25 June 2018 to explain through a series of tweets what his startup was working on:

This is how Alex Kern, the CTO of Distributed Systems announced on Twitter the news about the acquisition by Coinbase:

On his post on the Coinbase blog, B Byrne, the product manager for Coinbase Identity, used the following example to explain the motivation for decentralized online identity solutions:

“Think about how this applies to something like a Social Security number. Every time you want to prove who you are with your SSN, you need to give away a copy of it. That copy has exactly the same power as the original, so when there’s a data breach with copies of your data it puts your identity at risk. A decentralized identity will let you prove that you own an identity, or that you have a relationship with the Social Security Administration, without making a copy of that identity. If you stretch your imagination a little further, you can imagine this applying to your photos, social media posts, and maybe one day your passport too.”


He then explained that Coinbase was going to explore how and where this technology should be used:

“Blockchain technology that powers cryptocurrencies offers a new way to let us all be “verified” everywhere we go on the internet, feeling safer about our interactions with others and opening the door to the experiences that require trust. We’ll need to be deliberate about how and where we apply this technology. We’re going to have new questions to answer about anonymity, privacy, and how permanent the different pieces of our identity should be. But ultimately, decentralizing online identities will transform our relationship with technology.”



Featured Image Credit: Image via Coinbase