Interview by Zoya Malik (Managing Editor)
TiiQu is a platform that uses blockchain technology to create an immutable digital “passport” as verified proof of an individual’s professional trustworthiness. Laura Degiovanni, CEO, TiiQu and organiser of Trustless Ecosystems meetups speaks to Zoya Malik, managing editor TFT about the need for industry knowledge sharing to drive HR transparency and authenticity over DLT towards a more meritocratic order of selection
ZM: You talk of trustless ecosystems over blockchain? Is this not a bit of a misnomer, isn’t it more about distributed trust?’
LD: I would rather say that distributed trust in the blockchain space is referred to more parties contributing a brick to the collective building of trust, while trustlessness is referred to the environment where parties have no need to trust each other or a central authority because the system itself guarantees the desired outcome. Distributed trust is action. Trustlessness is the state of art of the environment.
ZM: What are your trustless ecosystems meet ups all about? Who is attending and what are their main concerns?
LD: Over 1000 ICOs in 2018 plus $3.9 billion in VC capital raised in the first three quarters of 2018, have made “blockchain” a buzzword and ushered huge expectations, sometimes not supported by a true understanding about the challenges and benefits associated with blockchain implementation. Gartner suggests that we are currently experiencing the “trough of disillusionment” begging the question, is this based on lack of scalability of projects or on the lack of understanding?
Trustless Ecosystems meetups are about knowledge sharing on the daily challenges about building on blockchain and the benefits of DLT adoption. In the series of Trustless Ecosystems meetups on January 24th was the topic of scalability with Gary Nuttall along with start-up founders Kumar Gaurav from Cashaa, Piers Ridyard from Radix and entrepreneurs operating in the DLT space, along with Alpesh Doshi from Fintricity. Our meetup groups are currently active in London and Berlin. These communities are mainly made up of tech and business people involved in the blockchain space, willing to enhance understanding, facilitate collaboration and foster future adoption of blockchain based systems. The “learning from real experience” side of our events is what makes people signup. By targeting topics related to challenges both in the tech implementation and /or in market development across all industries, we put together very diverse panels and interesting exchanges.
ZM: What problems are you trying to solve through TiiQu?
LD: TiiQu’s purpose is to remove guesswork from individuals’ claims and enable instantaneous trust based on real verified facts instead of subjective opinions and gut feeling. We envision a globalised market where establishing business, work and learning relationships is a fast and meritocratic decision-making process. We fight against a fake certification industry that is worth $1.3 billion and we are compelled to action by the survey conducted amongst 6000 HR professionals that found that 46% of job candidates lie on their CVs.
To achieve this goal, we have brought together a set of technologies corresponding to our values of transparency, democracy and fairness. The CertiiF allows issuance of tamper-proof certificates on blockchain by a click, the open source VERiiF enables anybody to instantaneously verify integrity and veracity of such certificates and the TiiQu platform calculates individual’s TQ score, which is derived from verified claims and is designed to express in a value between 0 and 1000, the degree to which an individual’s claims can be trusted. We envision a future where certification of claims is the norm and verification is as easy and instantaneous as switching on a light. You turn on the light to guide your way and secure yourself, to reach your destination quickly by minimising risks so the world of certified and verified claims is like switching the light on in the business world, it enables trust in interactions and trust underpins successful economies.
ZM: How will TiiQu services partner with banking and finance interests?
LD: Apart for the obvious adoption of TiiQu in the HR space, I am planning two additional cases where TiiQu’s technologies can partner with financial services: proofs of knowledge and competence of financial advisors and skills assessments.
Under Art 25(1) of MiFID II, an EU directive was introduced at the beginning of 2018, an additional requirement for the knowledge and competence of staff on providing information or financial advice to customers. Investment firms must ensure that all-natural persons who provide investment advice or information to their clients, have the necessary knowledge and competence. This applies to those who provide information about investment services, structured deposits, financial instruments or ancillary services.
Adopting a standard for issuing proofs of knowledge – the CertiiF – and an open source standard for verification – the VERiiF – authorities would benefit with a significant layer of transparency, would be able to monitor progress and accelerate compliance to the directive, making the information about an individual’s competence verifiable by the customer as well.
Not least, the MIFID II directive states, “The national competent authority requires a firm to demonstrate the knowledge and competence of relevant staff. Member States will set their own standards. Firms shall be required to show how their relevant staff meet these standards”. When different skills assessments need to answer the same directive and provide a valuable fair rating about knowledge and competence, it may be a challenge to come to guarantee harmonic application of the directive across the industry. TiiQu is developing an advanced AI skills assessment tool with a sophisticated rating system that could significantly enhance the harmonisation and objectivity of industry’s assessments.
ZM: How does CERTiiF work to satisfy Proofs of Work for the banking and finance industry?
LD: The employment certificate is an integral part of the employment relationship and should thus be delivered to each employee upon termination of their employment. It is also the company’s duty to issue an intermediary certificate at the employee’s request. CertiiF is the right solution, the system connected to payrolls that automates issuance of such proofs of employment and liberates the company from validating claims of ex-employees in the future; in fact the employee will be able to share his/her proof of employment with prospects and prospects will verify veracity and integrity of such certificates via the online VERiiF without losing time in long processes or paying third-parties any verification services. Not last , in a context where the specific role covered by an employee significantly determines the suitability of that employee to provide a specific service, a proof of employment linked to payrolls (where the role is obviously clearly stated), may help to predict suitability.
ZM: How can trustlessness on blockchain assist with your HR services within banking and finance’s talent gap and hiring?
LD: The increasing competition from financial technology companies is disrupting the way traditional banking has been conducted so far. This is not just about technology but also extends to operations, HR, culture and other facets of the industry. In addition, regulatory requirements continue to increase.
Groups need to guarantee the right people, in the right place at the right time. Very often corporates need to transfer resources within the same group and or to extend services provided from external experts to other entities of the same group. The risk of transferring or adopting wrong resources in the banking and finance sector may cost failure of a project, at the same time, transferring sensible information about an EU employee’s or contractor’s performances, represent a GDPR breach. TiiQu allows creation of “trustless” sub-ecosystems where an individual’s data and tracked performances and achievements gathered in a GDPR compliant professional passport, facilitate companies’ decision-making and individuals’ professional reputation management.
ZM: How will the concept of meritocracy create a level playing field for hiring and transition the talent gap in a fast-growing digital marketplace?
LD: It’s all about allowing members of that marketplace to choose each other based on facts that are verified and not just opinions and apply a fair evaluation to veracity and trustworthiness of facts and sources. Meritocracy in the TiiQu ecosystem is about keeping the focus on the professional sphere only and about applying the same criteria to any member of the platform without any kind gender-ethnicity or status pre-judgment. New generations want to be in control of their future and data, themes like fairness and transparency are crucial in their decision-making process and they are ready to contribute to systems they believe in as long as they see themselves adequately rewarded. It’s not about money, it’s about providing them something that facilitates their personal growth in values and skills. Accelerated growth of a global marketplace relies on creating the pre-condition for users to actively contribute and benefit from its transparency and trustworthiness.
ZM: How can your services over blockchain disrupt with KYC requirements for banks and customer profiling? What will be the impact?
LD: We have been asked to explore the application of the TQ score to fundraising platforms. In fact, the TQ score is calculated using a modular hierarchical weighted averaging system comprised of multiple sources of truth. The 4 nodes, Identity, verification, reputation and performance are fed by multiple sources of truth – among such sources are identity checks systems. We work against the implementation of sources and estimate this will be an ongoing process and look with interest to collaborating with governmental institutions that provide digital access to information, useful to proof trustworthiness of individuals.
ZM: What are TiiQu plans for partnering in the smart economy?
LD: TiiQu has been defined as the glue for many identity, education and matching systems built on blockchain. Our three technologies CertiiF, VERiiF and the TQ score are designed to interact with projects and services that are built on other blockchains. We are actively working towards valuable partnerships with those projects that are aligned with our code of ethics. I truly believe it’s time to turn on the light, foster accountability and facilitate independence of individuals, for the benefit of the global economy as a whole.