Hi, we’re Portabl 👋

We think your identity belongs to you, whether you do your finances in Web2, Web3, or somewhere in between.

8 min readSep 19, 2022

We launched in Beta today, with coverage here: https://techcrunch.com/2022/09/19/fintech-app-portabl-raises-2-5m-to-help-consumers-securely-store-financial-data/

For more on what we’re up to and why you should get excited, keep reading.

In a world where nearly every facet of our lives happens online, “proving” who you are has never been more critical.

Your digital identity is constantly being used to define you, from verifying your level of education and work history to determining your credit worthiness for buying a new home or car. Each data point paints a picture that is used by employers, financial institutions, and governments to make decisions that directly impact your life.

Yet we’re stuck proving our identities more than ever.

New app? Time to submit and re-verify the same information all over again. 😖
New app? Another account to maintain
. 😬

We think that’s nuts. Particularly in financial services, where the burden of presenting trusted data is so high.

That’s why Portabl is launching the tools to secure and manage how your digital identity represents you. We will make it easier for you to re-use the data that is already authenticated, proven, and trusted by other apps and services.

We want this to be true anywhere in your financial life — web2, web3, or somewhere in between. If you’ve already gone through the process of onboarding and verifying your identity to make an account with App X, you shouldn’t have to do that process all over again with another app or provider — you should be able to bring the trust you built with AppX with you.

Modern financial access depends on enabling consumers to bring their trusted data with them across their favorite apps and services in ways that build long-term trust with providers.

Finance has a trust problem

Historically, the data that defines you — publicly or privately — is spread out in bits and pieces across each of the platforms and apps you interact with, leaving you with limited control and more vulnerability to fraud and breaches. Every app has to go through its own process of collecting and verifying data in order to onboard you because each service independently authenticates identity data. Despite it being easier than ever to connect banks to apps, and apps to other apps, there is still no consistent, transparent, and easy way to bring your own known and verified identity data with you in an app-agnostic way.

For consumers, this ever-repeating cycle of onboarding and maintaining independent data silos gets old. But that frustration is also a huge impediment for the apps and service providers on the other end:

  • 42% of all users and 60% of users under 25 abandoned signing up for a new financial account/service because traditional registration processes are often too lengthy, confusing, or insecure.
  • Having to constantly prove our identities from scratch engenders distrust, and makes for onboarding experiences that are at best repetitive, and at worst confusing and exclusionary. It’s no wonder that 87% ❗️of people surveyed in Onfido’s 2020 State of Identity are neutral or dissatisfied by the way their data is handled online.

Having your digital identity redundantly stored in so many different services makes it harder to correct errors, update stale data, or determine who has access to your data — and easier for bad actors to exploit it. Not only does that put your information at risk, the organizations that you rely on for key financial services are exposed to outsize liability for cyber-attacks that could cost them (and you) money and harm their (and your) reputation.

Both sides lose out when consumers don’t control their data.

By releasing tools that put consumers in control with transferrable — portable — data, we can transform the entire customer lifecycle: faster, two-click account onboarding, safer password-free sign-in, and simpler ways to keep data synced across accounts so that service providers are better able to safeguard consumers’ financial reputation and data security.

If we get this right, we will simplify and automate many parts of the identity compliance stack that currently prevent the financial system from being more cost-effective, accurate, inclusive, and equitable.

Your identity with others.

Paper documents have served as key identity validators since the Middle Ages, from birth certificates to tax filings and passports, controlling where people can go and what they can do. And in the past, they had to physically present those documents to each financial institution they worked with.

That’s no longer the case, with major tech companies emerging as identity middlemen by using common standards such as OAuth, SAML, and SSO to perform different types of authentication — that you are who you say you are based on a small set of data.

If you’ve ever used these buttons, you probably love the ease—we get that!

However, relying on identity middlemen creates its own challenges. You don’t “own” your digital identity, so companies can indiscriminately sell or share it with others. They profit from monetizing your data, and every time data is shared increases the chance it will be exposed to bad actors or be otherwise compromised.

On the other end of the spectrum, we’ve seen the rise of token-based identities as one possibility to help solve these issues. They are an attractive option because they use on-chain transactions that web3 users are already familiar with, plus have all the benefits of on-chain activity, such as tamper-evident record keeping.

However, the token model only goes so far when faced with the complexities of digital financial identity. The stark reality is that compliance and privacy are complex and in a period of flux. Tokens exist on public ledgers, often making them “too public” for representing your most sensitive data. They don’t easily obey composability and are not immediately transferrable across the web2-web3 divide; mainstream firms may not have the tools to start issuing or accepting them.

Your identity with Portabl.

Portabl has a different approach.

The data you secure with Portabl is private by default, and can be used to power secure and easy sign-ups, passwordless sign-ins, and consent-based data sharing and updating. No more complex forms, no more confusing workflows.

Sign UP will be as easy as sign IN, with the added bonus of being password-free.

🎉 Today we are proud to launch the beta for our custodial APIs and SDKs, as well as our no-code interface, which enables providers to configure and issue transferable, verifiable identities from within the native web and app experience. This opens up seamless identity protection and mobility for millions of users across web2 and web3.

Preview of the app, left. Preview of the admin tools, right.

(If you’re wondering why we released a custodial tool first, stay tuned for our next post.)

One of our principles is that portable financial identity is the next step in open finance. As a result, we want to enable providers and apps to access the most significant emerging competitive advantage by enabling their users to control their own verified data and how it is shared among their favorite apps and services.

Said differently, offering data ownership is the next killer feature.

We do the hard work so that providers can issue Portabl Identities in only a few lines of code; consumers can be assured that using pre-verified information is seamless. The average fintech app requires 16 data points to open an account — and on day one, we can ensure consumers can protect and then reuse twice as many data points.

The effect? Imagine having something like Twitter’s blue “verified” checkmark for each authentic data point about yourself and being able to disclose different sets of verified data points for simpler and safer access.

In the coming weeks we have a ton of major features being pushed into our core platform, including tools for verifying new users with pre-existing Portabl identities and setting up 2-click KYC and onboarding.

We will also be releasing the ✨Portabl Wallet app✨ that will allow consumers to switch to a non-custodial model and use in-app features to self-issue bank-grade credentials that can be presented at any member of the Portabl ecosystem (and other compatible on-chain environments).

Coming soon!

This completes the classic “trust triangle” that underpins the broader goals of self-sovereign identity (SSI). As a result, Portabl simplifies the full identity management lifecycle for banks, fintechs, and (d)apps while making PII management simpler, safer, and cheaper.

🔎 For the curious: under the hood, we based our approach on DIF- & W3C-compliant Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs), and Verifiable Credentials (VCs), plus additional techniques supporting confidential, encrypted data storage. We’ll save the deep-dive for another time, but the TLDR is that a DID gives you a secure way of identifying yourself to any app or service, and VCs represent cryptographically-signed representations of your most important data — for example, your name, your address or proof of residency, phone number, email, biometrics, etc. Your DID can reference credentials for providers ONLY when you give explicit consent.

📣📣📣 To make it clear—we’re NOT putting your most sensitive data on a blockchain! We use a mix of on-chain and off-chain methods to:

  • Encrypt and preserve verification events to maintain the verifiability and reusability of your data.
  • Support new types of end-to-end encrypted messaging to protect how you disclose information with (d)apps
  • Require mutual authentication when signing up or signing in with your Portabl ID
  • Provide a privacy boost though zero-knowledge (ZK) expressions of data, allowing pre-verified data to plug into environments that emphasize pseudonymity while still providing KYC assurances. For example, a zero-knowledge proof can confirm to a reliant party that you’re over 18 without exposing the underlying date of birth.

By implementing this mix of on-chain and off-chain techniques, we successfully bridge the web2-web3 identity divide — this is why we think the future of financial access and security is Web2.5 native.

Self-owned identity makes access to financial products more privacy-friendly, but the bigger point is its impact on financial inclusion. Historically, lots of people have been left out of the system not because they’re bad, but because they’re hard to make sense of and decision. We want to make that a thing of the past by standardizing how both traditional and alternative data can be owned, shared, and trusted. This can widen the definition of a “trusted” customer and make historically underserved, thin-file, and no-file individuals easier for providers to understand and serve.

We’re thrilled to share the first steps toward making financial access faster, more transparent, and easier to implement while protecting consumers’ data in the process. There is so much more we’re excited to share with you in the coming weeks, so watch this space for a few technical deep dives as well as a short piece on why you can’t have open banking & open finance without self-owned identity.

If you’re an interested consumer, head here to learn how Portabl makes managing your digital identity easier

And if you’re a fintech or crypto provider interested in learning more about our platform and joining our Beta, head here.

See you next week for why banking is not really “open” without self-owned identity!




The financial identity that moves and grows with you.