Telegram has been testing a new service that will store users’ information and documents for verification purposes, according to Russian media reports. Telegram Passport will be used to keep personal details and copies of IDs, banking statements, and utility bills to identify users on Telegram’s blockchain platform TON.
Also read: After Telegram, Viber May Be Blocked, Russian Minister Says
Telegram Passport to Prevent Anonymous Crypto Payments
Developers at Telegram are conducting closed tests of a new service designed to store personal data, according to sources quoted by Russian media. Telegram Passport will be used to verify identities of users on the messenger’s Telegram Open Network. They will be able to buy goods and pay for services on the TON blockchain platform with Telegram’s crypto token called Gram.
Customers will provide their personal details and documents, such as copies of IDs, passports, drivers’ licenses, utility bills, bank statements, and possibly photographs. Once uploaded, the information can be potentially shared with Telegram’s partners within the platform, but also on their systems, Vedomosti reported, quoting two sources close to the company.
Telegram Passport, which may be launched by the summer, is expected to effectively prevent anonymity associated with crypto payments, which is a worrisome aspect for regulators around the world, explained Alexander Filatov, partner at SP Capital. His consulting company has invested in TON and facilitated investments of other interested parties.
A number of partner businesses will be able to take advantage of the service. The Russian payments services provider Qiwi has already been granted access to the system, according to the report. The company is said to be cooperating with the messenger on the launch of Telegram Passport.
Initially, only the users, not even Telegram, will have access to their details and documents. They will be able to secure the data with a password and two factor authentication. The company will use the information only with the account holder‘s consent, according to information shared on the closed pages of telegram.org cited by the Russian outlet. Once Telegram’s partners receive the data, they can verify it according to their own standards.
Others are Working on Similar Concepts
Telegram’s main competitors in that field are mature systems that use authorization services provided by third-party platforms via Google, Facebook, or Windows Live, said Dmitry Ufaev, head of the Russian operations of Bitfury, a leading manufacturer of software and hardware blockchain solutions. In his words, Telegram Passport will allow the messenger to circumvent these established services, providing greater privacy and data security to its users. This will be a reputational advantage, Ufaev noted.
Other major companies are working in the same direction as well, and Telegram is likely to face hefty competition. The Chinese messenger Wechat has already implemented money transfers for users and service providers on its platform. The company is currently testing a digital identity verification system with face detection functionality which should be more efficient than verification based on copies of documents. The tech giant Apple is also working on its Face ID system.
According to Alexei Prokofiev, partner at two venture capital funds, states will eventually switch to identity verification based on biometrics. “It’s a matter of digital sovereignty,” he believes. In his opinion, if Telegram does not establish relations with government authorities, it may fail to acquire licenses for providing services in jurisdictions where biometric verification is required by law.
News that Telegram is working on its blockchain platform TON came out in January. The company founded by entrepreneur Pavel Durov was able to attract investments worth a total of $1.7 billion dollars to finance the project. Goods, services and other content on TON will be paid with Gram, Telegram’s own crypto. Recently, the messenger called off a planned public initial coin offering.
Durov’s company has been involved in a bitter conflict with authorities in Moscow following its refusal to hand over its encryptions keys to FSB, the Federal Security Service. Despite some interruptions, attempts by Russian regulators to block the service in the country have been unsuccessful so far. Russia’s telecom regulator Roskomnadzor has been trying to restrict access to the messenger since April 16 after a decision by a district court in Moscow from April 13.
What do you think of Telegram’s plan to introduce identity verification for users of services offered on its blockchain platform? Tell us in the comments section below.
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