Following on quite neatly from my last interview, about uPort and the future of identity, this latest post looks at how blockchain technology could vastly improve the storage of personal data. UK based company Nuggets are working on a blockchain application that aims to eliminate ID and credit card fraud, making your online transactions, ‘safer and simpler’. I spoke to Alastair Johnson, Founder & CEO of Nuggets to find out more…
What is your background and how did you first become involved in
the blockchain space?
AJ: The founders worked together at Skype and Microsoft, where we were
involved in exploiting IP and launching and maintaining new products in
market. We’ve both worked extensively with product teams, and run our
Two years ago, my credit card was used fraudulently, and I was
astonished at how laborious and problematic it had become to update
my details with all the websites and services I’d subscribed to. Ultimately
– like most other consumers in that situation – I had no idea what had
been compromised and what hadn’t.
Our business, Nuggets, was born out of frustration, and the realisation
that our data was no longer safe with anyone but ourselves.
When I started on this journey I was looking at existing systems for
making financial and personal data secure. I realised the value of zero
knowledge storage – and the challenges of delivering that via the
Blockchain was a revelation! Suddenly I had zero knowledge,
encryption, privacy, security and trust, all combined with the immutable
ledger. Being able to wrap small nuggets of information in the
blockchain, combined with biometrics, was exactly what we needed to
deliver true personal data security.
Could you describe exactly what Nuggets offers, and how it works?
AJ: Nuggets is a consumer blockchain application that gives users a single
biometric tool for login, payment and identity verification, without sharing
or storing private data.
It works by encrypting your data using ‘zero-knowledge’ blockchain
technology. This means no one can get at it – not even Nuggets.
When you use a service – like an online retailer – you verify the
purchase with your biometric ID (like a fingerprint) and Nuggets
completes the transaction in moments, without ever revealing your full
The service doesn’t hold onto any of those details either. Which means
even if the service gets hacked later, your details are safe – because
they haven’t been stored.
What do you see as the main issues with how consumer data is
currently stored, and how does blockchain technology specifically
help solve these issues?
AJ: Today, most people store their identity and payment data with at least 50
companies and services. Those databases are prime targets for
breaches, creating a huge cyber-security market.
But that market still isn’t delivering when it comes to consumers being
able to control and protect their own data.
Using the latest blockchain technology and user biometrics (as
passwords are inherently insecure), Nuggets enables consumers to take
back control of their own data. In the process, it solves one of the
corporate world’s biggest headaches: user data security.
What blockchain are you working with, and why was it chosen?
AJ: We are using Ethereum, because it is Turing complete, it has smart
contracts and DAPPs, and it can transact faster.
What other projects in this space are you particularly excited about
AJ: Humaniq is also using blockchain to benefit society as a whole. The
blockchain / humanitarian / crypto coin offering is really compelling, and I
can see it going a long way.
Has being a UK based blockchain company had any positive or
negative implications so far?
AJ: Finance and regulatory bodies in the UK are really proactive in working
with and developing new technology in fintech. We have even heard of
companies coming from Silicon Valley to work in London because of this
climate. This is helping the UK to become one of the top global locations
We also have some great blockchain teams and payment knowledge in
Alastair Johnson, Founder & CEO
Who else is part of the Nuggets team?
There’s Seema Khinda Johnson, our co-founder and COO. She’s helped
deliver product, create teams, and set up operations for some of the
world’s most iconic brands over the last 18 years. And Adi Ben-Ari, our
CTO, comes with proven blockchain heritage. We also have a brilliant
development and growth team.
Finally, what does the Nuggets roadmap look like for the next 12-18
AJ: We’ve got a pretty ambitious backlog that takes us to virtual credit and
beyond. We’re launching login, payment and ID verification through
merchants and payment providers this year, with plans for a global
launch in late 2018.
We’re in discussions right now with major retailers who are excited about
the potential of Nuggets. We’d love to hear from more retailers – and
any consumers interested in being part of the Alpha can register at
As people become increasingly aware how much security they sacrifice
by handing over personal details online, they’re going to want to protect
themselves wherever they go. And we’ll be working hard to make sure