Entering the era of the Internet of Everything, it is expected that we will exchange digital data more frequently in the future online world. When the data form goes digital and is not the traditional black-and-white word format any longer, how to verify data’s credibility becomes a major challenge derived from the trend of digital transformation. At this time, blockchain technology with the characteristics of anti-tampering and decentralization has become one of the feasible solutions.
In the past Web 2 era without blockchain, most databases were easily predominated by a single industry. Now, blockchain comes in to break this situation. According to AWS, data in the world of blockchain is stored in blocks connected to the same chain and cannot be deleted or modified without network consensus. For example, asset transactions can be recorded by establishing a decentralized anti-tampering system through the blockchain, and it is likely that we will see more and more blockchain systems getting involved in industries such as energy, finance, media, entertainment, and retail.
Fueled by this trend, many Taiwanese startups have also invested in the research and development of blockchain technology in recent years, trying to grasp new business opportunities through this revolutionary innovation. Among them, two startups, International Trust Machines Corporation (ITM) and Turing Chain/Turing Certs Limited, with the assistance of TAcc+, were shortlisted as the potential rising stars and ranked among the top ten high-quality teams in Cybersecurity field by the “2022 Select USA Tech Investment Summit” this year. As such, we would like to give you an in-depth introduction to their technical highlights and current status as follows.
Eyeing the opportunity that blockchain is expected to strengthen the security of digital data, Julian Chen, Gwan-hwan Hwang, and Ying-ming Wang co-founded ITM in 2019 to create a blockchain expansion solution. The goal is to use the decentralized characteristics of the blockchain to link large amounts of data with blockchain and try to solve the security problem of Web 2 data with the architecture and technology of Web 3. Over the past three years, ITM has successively received capital injections from well-known companies such as MediaTek and Wistron Corporation. This year, ITM was selected as one of the members of the Far EasTone 5G Metaverse Accelerator, and its operational prospects are highly anticipated.
The main business model of ITM is to provide PaaS (Platform as a Service) through its “ITM BNS (Blockchain Notary Service)” platform. Users can upload their web pages, integrate their internal systems through Application Programming Interface (API), or connect to ITM Software Development Kit (SDK) software services to upload all kinds of authentication data to the ITM system. Then, ITM will take care of the rest, including packaging and chaining and processing the evidence data. After the evidence data is processed, it will be returned to the user in the form of a smart contract, on which all evidence changes during the process will be recorded.
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Julian Chen, the CEO and co-founder of ITM, pointed out that it is a must to find a trusted third party to prove that the data is consistent with the original in the traditional paper world, but this proof is difficult to achieve in the digital world. However, solving this difficulty is exactly what ITM wants to do; that is, to make it realistic for large amounts of social data to use blockchain-level security in the real world. By linking the blockchain with the evidence of the file, anyone can directly identify whether the file is original or not without looking for the original organization or person in charge. At present, ITM offers the service by a subscription system and can store and certify millions of records a year.
In particular, ITM has relied on its own technical strength to solve problems that might affect the processing of large amounts of data in the past, such as the slow search speed of blockchain data and the limited scale expansion. ITM has researched and developed two unique weapons. One is that when data is processed, it is first positioned and fixed in the structure as a part of the security agreement; the other is a technology called “Chainhash”, which is linked with blockchain evidence and printed on its smart contract to realize the function of “quick search and quick check” of large amounts of data. These two technologies have so far obtained eight patents in the United States, Taiwan and Japan.
Chen said bluntly, “No one else has done this yet. Using this technology, we can more accurately access the data and ensure the integrity of the data.” Eyeing that the interaction between people and cars will generate a lot of data, ITM has been working with Hon Hai MIH Consortium to link the driving records of electric vehicles with the dynamic NFT structure so as to ensure the integrity of the large amounts of data generated by smart vehicles in the future. “This will be an important key technology for electric vehicle data assets.”
ITM expects to use its own technology to speed up the trust process and reduce the cost of trust. Its bigger vision is to use the Web 3 architecture to help the industry strengthen data security and to connect the Web 3 world with Web 2 data. Julian Chen said that what ITM needs to do is to combine decentralized trust with centralized trust, so that Web 3 asset transactions can be linked with the Web 2 world. As long as the certificate is stored, everything that has happened will have evidence. Otherwise, people may think that Web 3 assets are just self-hype. Only in this way can the Web 3 industry thrive.
Public sector units such as Taiwan Power Company, Ministry of Justice or private enterprises such as MiTAC, Innodisk Corporation, MediaTek are planning to adopt the ITM system for their products. Starting from Taiwan, ITM has also involved in overseas markets such as the United States and Japan. Julian Chen bluntly said that ITM is still exploring the most suitable application market. For instance, ESG, green energy, insurance and other related industries are likely to have demand in the future. In addition, if companies want to do stricter supply chain control, they will also need such new tools to ensure data security. In terms of products, ITM plans to integrate with identity recognition and combine ITM BNS with various forms of electronic wallets, so that users can directly verify through ITM BNS during transactions.
Combining Blockchain Technology, Turing Certs Commits to Promoting Digitization of Certificates
School diplomas or professional certificates are indispensable and important for most people when they want to continue their studies, go abroad for further education, and manage their careers. However, not only may these mainly paper-printed certificates be damaged or lost due to improper storage, but they can be easily forged and tampered. Thus, they do not meet the needs of this digital age. Seeing the market potential for digital certificates and digital identity, Turing Chain/Turing Certs, which was born in 2018 and returned to Taiwan in 2020, has decided to subvert the public’s concept of traditional license issuance and identity authentication methods by capitalizing on its own expertise of blockchain and information security technology.
Jeff Hu, founder and CEO of Turing Certs, was born and raised in Taiwan. After graduating from the National Hsinchu Senior High School, he received with honors a full scholarship from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and began a rich career of studying abroad, doing internships and even starting a business.
In school, he majored in information engineering and studied artificial intelligence, cryptography, blockchain and other technologies. When thinking about if blockchain has a “landing application” that is closer to the daily life of the public aside from cryptocurrency, he remembered that he had to prepare documents such as graduation certificates to apply for admission to graduate schools of many well-known universities and colleges in Europe and the United States. This cumbersome experience that was both time-consuming and expensive gave him a hunch to invest in the research of digital certificate as a business topic, resulting in the birth of Turing Certs.
Obtaining assistance from Taiwan’s TAcc+ Accelerator, the SelectUSA and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), this start-up team first accumulated some experience in the US market, mainly focusing on Berkeley Law Executive, Harvard HCAP and then returned to Taiwan, where Turing Certs has successively won the trust of more than 30 institutions, such as Office of International Affairs of National Taiwan University, National Tsing Hua University, Chinese Culture University, Soochow University, National Chung Hsing University, etc. As a result, Turing Certs has gradually expanded its territory and prepared to enter Japan, Southeast Asia and other markets. So far, Turing Certs has issued more than 60,000 certificates.
With variety of technologies and deeply rooted in Taiwan, Turing Certs is steady in its paths to international market.
The business model of Turing Certs is to provide certificate issuing units including schools with a cloud platform using blockchain as the underlying technology. Turing Certs’ technology complies with EU GDPR specifications and ISO 27001 Information Security Standard. Users do not need IT background. As long as they can log in to the platform and enter the information of the issuing object, they can generate a unique and unforgeable digital certificate. In addition to saving the manpower, time, and printing and mailing costs for the issuing unit, this is also a great boon for any certificate holder in the process of applying for schools, job-hunting and sending resumes, because digitized personal academic certificates or professional certificates that are credibly encrypted with technology are not only more convenient to obtain and save but also help save a lot of time and money.
“At present, most people still regard paper certificates as ‘original’, and digital documents are ‘copies’. We hope to reverse this concept in the future,” said Jeff Hu. Through the Turing Certs’ digital certificate platform, users are allowed to download files and print a paper “copy”, which will be accompanied by a QR Code pointing to the digitized “original”.
Because of the relatively conservative and closed nature of the education market, Hu admitted that Turing Certs did not promote its business to local universities and colleges so smoothly at the beginning.
“Some universities that are more than 100 years old have doubts about the credibility of startups like ours, or they ask us to provide various compliance documents,” Hu said. However, this did not deter him and his team members but urged them to work even harder to complete the tedious steps required by potential customers. Therefore, they have won the favor of many international schools and related research institutions.
In addition to certification for education market, Turing Certs also maintains technology neutrality and can provide certifications for corporate sustainability reports or other items such as automobiles, real estate, art, and agriculture. In fact, in this year, Turing Certification also cooperated with multiple institutions including Dun & Bradstreet (ESG & Sustainability Report) and the Ministry of Digital Affairs (Taiwan) on the digital certificate projects.
In the future, Turing Certs even plans to enter the metaverse world to provide virtual identity certification. In addition to continuing to improve technically—including passing the ISO 27701 standard and compatibility with many more other systems (for instance, the goal for Azure Active Directory is to log in with a single account), Turing Certs will also actively participate in the formulation of international standards (such as W3C DID), so as to gain a firm foothold in the global market.