Gravity launches to provide identity management for poor populations in Africa

Gravity provides on the fly identity management services for low income populations in developing countries. People just need access to a mobile phone – any phone – to create a robust ID sealed on a block chain. For more than half a billion people in Africa, mobile operators are struggling with collecting and verifying the KYC information, also denying the ones who lack formal ID access to a SIM card or mobile money services.

Through its platform, Gravity allows MNOs to strengthen their KYC while expanding both their customer base and level of service to people at the bottom of the pyramid.

It has an office in Nairobi, Kenya mainly to manage the field operations of the company, being incubated at the Founders Program in Paris. The company was founded in 2016 by experts in the blockchain, telecommunications and finance sectors, with 15 years of consolidated work experience in Africa. The Proof of Concept was self-funded.

The value proposition of the platform is to create a trusted and secured self-sovereign identity easy to share. Gravity works to improving identity management in several ways, such as leveraging crowdsourcing (Peer to Peer certification) to validate ID attributes. Instead of rare and expensive data (ID cards, formal KYC), use of cheap low intensity data. Also leveraging crowd computing (blockchain technology) to secure the ID registry. Instead of sequential data processing, use of a distributed Ledger Technology. Gravity further stands out in Proportional ID score, instead of binary ID (with or without ID). Choosing to tackle first the most significant issue when it comes to identity in Africa : SIM registration.

Indeed for more than half a billion people in Africa, mobile operators are struggling with collecting and verifying the KYC information, also denying the ones who lack formal ID access to a SIM card or mobile money services. The KYC collected cannot also be easily shared with third parties.
Enabling a seamless SIM card registration will unlock a fundamental value chain linked to mobile money services: payments, transfers, credit, insurance and savings, which are key in developing countries where « bricks and mortar » banking infrastructure struggles to serve low-income customers, particularly in rural areas. Reception in the market can be termed as good.

Gravity positions itself as a platform orchestrator. The consumers, accessing the value created on the platform, are all providers who want to reduce the cost of customer identification, increase penetration rate and simplify lifecycle management: governments, mobile operators, e-commerce providers, NGOs, Single Sign On users. The producers, on the platform supply side, are the users at the bottom of the pyramid who lack formal IDs to access value added services or want to have a more secure and open KYC.

The objective of the company is to be at the center of an ecosystem, playing the role a Facebook connect for the offline world, and enabling users to share the Gravity KYC with multiple private or public stakeholders they interact with to access services.

Gravity digital ID solution featured in the GSMA “Blockchain for Development” report. The report provides four case studies (from Gravity, BanQu, Disberse and WFP) that show how blockchain platforms are being used to improve people’s access to self-sovereign identities, bring new levels of transparency to the distribution of international aid, and improve the efficiency of humanitarian cash transfers.

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