Neocapita is an Estonian startup founded by David Huysman and Tony Willenberg. David made a career in public administration and governance consulting. Tony is an e-government advisor. Between us, we have worked in e-government and public administration projects in over 40 countries.
In January 2017, we formed Neocapita with the aim of solving some long-standing problems in e-government. We want to provide a lower-cost, faster-to-implement alternative to current e-government architecture and infrastructure, in a way that leads to improved efficiency and effectiveness of public administration – we see our technology as making government more relevant to citizens.
We finished development of Stoneblock’s minimum viable product in October 2017 and soon after began socialising our software and concept with governments around the world. We are now able to demonstrate how Stoneblock can enhance government system interoperability, provide a platform for secure and controllable citizen identity, lift the level of transparency in an economy; all while reducing data custody risk and compliance costs for Government. We believe Stoneblock is a game-changer.
Neocapita is self-funded, so we have “skin in the game”. We operate with a team of 6 talented technical staff and refer regularly to our team of advisors including: Mark Hadfield (veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur, currently CEO HelloMD), Dr. Christine Leitner (Center for Public Administration, EU), Christian Steifmueller (Finance Watch, EU), Nick Duncan (Cambridge University), Dan Cearnau (Cryptography), and Ioana Frincu (Development Operations).
Stoneblock is the world’s first ‘unified digital registry’. It is implemented as an Ethereum-based fully-permissioned blockchain application. It links self-sovereign identity – an identity that is generated by the citizen – to government-verified and issued “documents of value” (where we say, a government we also mean an institution). Citizens hold copies of their documents of value in a mobile application known as a ‘digital vault’. Stakeholders in the economy can lookup and authenticate documents online, as they are presented by citizens from their digital vault, with the full assurance that they are not tampered with and as issued by the government or institution.
Being a fully-permissioned blockchain, identity is critical to its operation. No documents are permitted to be stored on the blockchain without attribution to a citizen and the government officer and agency (or web service) that was authorised by law or regulation to make the final approval of the transaction.
Stoneblock does not try to emulate and replace the complexity of the workflows of e-government infrastructure. Instead, provides an API to allow existing infrastructure to register the final copy of the document (along with expiration and invalidation rules that may apply, implemented as secure ‘smart contracts’), to enable it to be claimed and held digitally by a citizen.
Stoneblock is made of a number of components that work in concert.
An Android mobile application – we refer to this as a mobile “digital vault” and is for: (a) the citizen or the student to create their self-sovereign identity, (b) to authenticate with in order to access that identity, and (c) to hold their “documents of value”.
On the government’s side, there are the Stoneblock access and distribution nodes which are software installations. Each of these nodes carries a full copy of the Stoneblock ‘permissioned’ blockchain, but the access node provides an additional secure RESTful API to marshals access to the blockchain and provides enquiry and lookup features. There is always at least one access node per government agency or web service. The nodes interact with Stoneblock’s customised Ethereum blockchain.
While we provide a number of out-of-the-box authentication schemes, e.g. Stoneblock uses the Trezor hardware key to authenticate access to the identity and digital keys for a government or institutional officer; Stoneblock is designed in a modular fashion to work in with existing authentication schemes which may be in place already, e.g. smart card, biometric, facial or voice recognition, etc.
Stoneblock can be used for students to hold digital versions of their credentials that education institutions verify and issue. Stoneblock can be used for citizens to hold digital versions of their “documents of value”, verified and issued by a government body. Stoneblock can be used in a domestic banking environment with cross-border payments recorded on the blockchain and each bank and the central bank able to see inflows and outflows from the environment with certainty and near-instant confirmation of transactions.
No, Stoneblock is not crypto-currency or crypto-token enabled. While we are considering an ICO in 2018, this would be a capital raising exercise only.
Stoneblock uses a shared ledger and the Ethereum smart contracting functions but does not implement the function to tokenise anything.
Whilst this may become a possibility in the future, permitting citizens to pay for government services with a crypto-token of some kind, this is a long way off and not in our work plan today.
We have focused our energy on a product to solve what we see as existing problems with e-government infrastructure and business processes so that our product can be easily understood and adopted in an incremental way.
Stoneblock reduces the cost of sharing data for the government and the citizen. By distributing data securely on a private and permissioned blockchain Stoneblock removes centralised data custody risk (and therefore the cost of compliance). Stoneblock provides a citizen with fine-grained control over their information and allows them to carry digital versions of “documents of value” which can be presented in the economy and relied upon because of the integrity inherent in information stored on a blockchain. Stoneblock works across the firewall using web-based peer-to-peer protocols and so requires no special set up by network administrators. Stoneblock stores the entire set of key criteria of a “document of value”, not just a hash (aka “fingerprint”) of the document so there is no dependency on a linked and centralised storage service. We estimate the cost of moving to Stoneblock is an order of magnitude more cost-effective than remaining with existing federated database infrastructure and data exchange middleware, while also delivering new benefits to the government (data interoperability) and citizen (transparency, integrity, access and control).
We refer to “documents of value” as any government-verified and -issued document that can be used by a citizen as evidence of a status or event or set of rights. A birth certificate, marriage certificate, single-status certificate, driver’s license, business license, tax payments, residence registration, temporary visas; are just a few examples of documents that can be held on the Stoneblock blockchain and for which digital copies can be carried around by the citizen for presentation to counterparties. Counterparties may be a government agency, someone they are doing business with, or another citizen in a private transaction. When a “document of value” can be looked up and verified with the knowledge that it is authentic and unquestionable, by anyone or everyone in an economy, the economy can operate with never-seen-before efficiency.
Stoneblock requires a two-person team for a period of not more than 30 days. In most cases, Stoneblock is designed to run in parallel with existing e-government infrastructure. Most of Stoneblock’s code can be inspected by customers, but we retain some confidential intellectual property.
Stoneblock has no upfront cost. We take a few cents for every document authenticated and stored on the Stoneblock ledger, and we do this only when Stoneblock is demonstrating its value to your organisation. Until such a time, it is free to use.