Dentity Leverages Web3 Tech to Make Identity Verification Simple and Secure

By Mark Ogilbee posted 03-16-2023 04:21 PM


An AgeTech Collaborative™ startup participant, Dentity is a free app that uses machine vision and AI to verify people’s information on the apps you use every day. Dentity allows consumers to share information in a way that protects their privacy by leveraging new cryptographic standards, the power of Web3, and distributed ledger technologies. 

Jeffrey Schwartz, founder and CEO, spent time explaining more about Dentity, how it works, and how it can help protect you. 

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 


Can you describe Dentity for us? 

Dentity is a Web3 identity and credentials platform. Fundamentally, it’s a peer-to-peer web app that any consumer can use and within a minute verify the identity or other information about other people. Thousands of people use it every day on social media or when they’re inviting service providers into their homes, because the great malignancies of the internet are typically conducted under the guise of anonymity. 


How does someone go about using Dentity? 

Let’s say you’re selling a car online. Through our app, you can verify anybody who wants to meet you about buying the car. You log into Dentity and create an account, which takes less than a minute. Then you go into the app, type in the other person’s phone number and email address and send them a verification request. You can specify what kind of information you want to verify; it could be their name, their age, their gender, or even their location. 

I use the app all the time to verify service providers who come to work in or around my house. It’s a very simple screening process. 


How does the technology work? 

We follow the U.S. Department of Commerce Digital Identity Guidelines, so we follow a known standard. But what we realized is that all this identity information needs to be decentralized and owned by the consumer. 

The development of new cryptography, digital signatures, distributed ledger technology, and blockchains allows us to anchor this identity engine into a Web3 environment that ensures privacy, safety of the information, and it gives consumers incredible superpowers about how they use and share their information.

For example, if you want to prove your age, you don't necessarily need to tell somebody what day you were born, and you certainly don't need to overshare information by giving them your driver's license. All this new technology allows consumers to protect their identity in a Web3 wallet that is cryptographically secure and gives them a lot of power over how they share that information. 

I was recently interviewed on “The Future of Identity” podcast with Riley Hughes, where I describe Dentity in more detail. It's a very smart, thoughtful conversation for anyone who’s interested in this kind of stuff. 


What was the catalyst for you founding the company? 

I’ve been in the auto industry for 25-plus years and have been involved with a lot of peer-to-peer auto sales involving social media sites. The thing that has always vexed us is that nobody was who they said they were — there was always some scam, somebody trying to fake who they were. I looked around and thought there must be a free, easy-to-use, bank-level enterprise identity verification service, but there wasn’t — it just didn’t exist. Typically, all this ID verification tech is in the hands of companies, not consumers. So we built this system that’s free to consumers and easy to use. 


It sounds like there are many possible applications beyond selling things online.

I started the business to solve the problems we saw in the auto industry, but it’s since expanded to just about anything online. We do identity verification for the notaries that work with mortgages; we do identity verification for legal call centers; we have tools that businesses can use to verify people during the onboarding process. We work in other areas, too: For example, we were selected to do all the digital credentials for South by Southwest (SXSW), the music festival in Austin, Texas. 


How can Dentity help those who are 50-plus in particular? 

Billions of dollars are being scammed from older adults every year, and a lot of that is from internet scams. They could be avoided if you take the simple act of verifying the person who’s trying to come into your home or trying to get into your bank account.  

The MIT AgeLab conducted a study that looked at the cost of somebody living in a care facility versus living independently. They found that if seniors can lean into the sharing economy — using apps for things like grocery delivery, transportation, home cleaning and so on — they can save thousands of dollars living independently over living in a care facility. 

So getting more seniors to lean into that economy is critical, and one of the biggest obstacles is the fear that they're going to be scammed, because you don't know who's on the other end of the line. Dentity can help solve that issue. We’re making the internet safer. 


What’s up next for Dentity? 

We’re very pleased that AARP invested in Dentity, and we’re always looking for great use cases with businesses or apps that need identity verification somewhere in their onboarding flow. We’re incredibly cost-effective; in fact, for most cases, we would provide the service for AgeTech Collaborative™ companies without charge for some period of time. And we’re looking for testbed opportunities where we can partner with people to demonstrate our solution.  

Learn more about Dentity at their website.