I read David because I can never accurately predict his opinion, which means either it's all signal, or he is in fact a natural source of randomness, both of which are highly valuable.

Danny O'Brien (July 2009).

Onboarding at Au10tx

I was flattered to be asked, and delighted to be able to accept, an invitation to join the Advisory Board at Au10tix, the Secure Customer Onboarding company. Au10tix, which recently attracted $80m in investment from TPG and Oak, is a major player in the field of digital onboarding. The efficient and effective binding of physical to digital identities is fundamental to the coming era of always-on and always-connected business and government.

Aut10tix will be leaders in this growing field and I hope to provide perspective and strategic input to help them to both realise their potential and to grow and devleop the digital onboarding industry as a whole.

Blockchain Reality

The BBC featured some of my views and ideas in a report on the blockchain. It was notable (to me, anyway) because of the very positive social media feedback on this piece, praising its objectiveness and level-headed appraisal. You can read it for youself by following this link.

Institute for Policy Research Podcast

The forward-looking people from the Institute for Policy Research at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC interviewed me for their podcast series My Digital Self hosted by Matt Foley. It was an absolute pleasure to be interviewed by such an interesting (and nice) guy! You can listen to the podcast [here].

2020 Vision


Happy New Year everyone. Here’s looking forward to a fascinating 2020 in the world of digital finance. Predictions are difficult, as they say, especially about the future, so I won’t bore you with my shortlist of predictions for 2030. Instead, I thought I’d bore you with a few things I said in 2010!

"I’ve mentioned (in a tedious, repetitive cycle) that there is a connection between national ID schemes, financial inclusion and payments. To put it crudely, if you “solve” the “ID problem” then the “payment problem” goes away. Let’s set aside what any of those phrases in quotation marks actually mean for a moment”.


"So who is going to provide the simple, ubiquitous 2FA for the web? Not banks with their dongles. Logically, I’m sure it should be MNOs, but I don’t think any of them have a strategy for this sort of thing”.


"Unless we introduce a firm plan for online anonymity pretty soon, we’re not going to have any anonymity at all… This may have the unexpected consequence of driving more interpersonal and corporate interaction into virtual worlds, because it is only in virtual worlds that the technology available in any reasonable timescale can deliver individual privacy”.


"So it turns out that you don’t have to be a Russian spy under deep cover or a highly-trained Mossad operative, you just need Photoshop and an ink-jet printer. Just as the credit card counterfeiters discovered, something has gone wrong: the current identity infrastructure inconveniences the innocent more than the guilty”.


"I particularly like the way in which the cards generate per-service provider pseudonyms, so that everytime the customer logs in to, say, Amazon, they would have the same “ID number”, but the bank would see a different number and so would the tax authority or another store or anyone else. This basic partitioning was precisely the kind of intelligent design decision that I would have advised the UK Home Office to adopt, had they asked me”.


"Pretty much every decision that the British government has made about ID cards has not only turned out to wrong, but almost optimally wrong. The collection of civil servants, management consultants, ministers and special advisors managed to leave us in as bad a situation as when they started — with no national identity management infrastructure — but hundreds of millions out of pocket...The current coalition are just as bad: they have no strategic vision for identity, no tactics for getting us there and (crucially) no more understanding of the technology than their New Labour predecessors (who, to be fair, didn’t understand the problem either)”.


"We have Payments Council and a National Payment Plan (NPP)… Perhaps one option for an incoming administration might be an Identity Council and a National Identity Plan (NIP).


Of the many credentials that might be associated with a digital identity as part of a commercial, sustainable business model, the IS_A_PERSON credential might be the trigger for the evolution of a more comprehensive infrastructure”.


"I don’t like SMS-based solutions because, should they become widespread then they will become spoofed, so I would much prefer an industry-wide approach to a genuinely secure solution with key pairs generated inside the SIM and SIM-based applications for encryption and signing (thereby not depending on security in the network or handset)”.


"Surely what will actually happen is that all traffic will become encrypted, since enterprising teenagers will soon spend ten minutes writing software to encrypt everything to avoid being caught by the Pyrate-Finder General and his minions, and the security services will find it utterly impossible to monitor any net traffic at all”.

"I have a slightly old-fashioned policy towards LinkedIn. When I get a connection request, I won’t accept unless it is someone that I’ve spoken to (or, preferably, met in person)”.

Wired: Me

Wired Magazine has published its “World in 2020” special edition and they have again included an article from me in this annual roundup of predictions across industry sectors. This year I decided to write about AI in financial services, advancing my view that the use of AI by financial services organisations is not disruptive but that the use of AI by their customers will be.


Thanks Tony

Tony McLaughlin, Managing Director of Emerging Payments at Citi, made a very kind shout out for my 2014 book “Identity is the New Money” in the panel discussion of the Payment Trends 2020 at Money20/20 in Las Vegas this year. He talks about identity starting at 15 minutes in, but it’s a great discussion panel with David Talach (GM of Payments at Square) and Peggy Alford (SVP Core Markets at PayPal) moderated by Zachary Aron of Deloitte. Put your feet. up with a cup of tea and watch it here…



The Economist have a podcast series called Futurewatch. The current series is about the death of cash. I was interviewed for the series and I think it’s pretty interesting so if you want to listen to it, check it out here.

Jamie Bartlett, The People vs. Tech

I recorded a new podcast in. my series of chats with authors, this time with Jamie Bartlett, who wrote “People vs. Tech: How the internet is killing democracy and how we save it”.


I was genuinely flattered to be asked to give the Innotribe closing keynote at SIBOS this year along with my good friend Brett King. Brett and I decided to try something a little different so we went for a sci-fi theme, looking at what we might learning about the future of money by looking at what writers, rather than technogists, think. 

asangoio 2019-Sep-26

There are a few pictures from the session in an album here. The main thing that I hope they convey is the amount of work Brett put in to make this amazing set of slides for the wall behind us! The presentation looked absolutely spectacular.

SIBOS 2019 stage cards

I wrote about some notes about the keynote and put them on Medium along with some pictures, so please feel free to head over there to get more details, byt the essence of the session was that it is up to society to make some choices about the future of finance and not leave those choices to the technologists.

IMG 0050

Fortunately an artist was on hand to try to make sense of our mad ramblings so here’s a permanent aide memoire! Despite the fears, I am sure that the reputation economy makes more sense in a post-scarcity world than an economy based on resources.

BrettKing 2019-Sep-26

I want to finish with a shout out to the kind people at Innotribe who also bought a bunch of copies of Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin and arranged for me to sign copies for delegates. I was genuinely flattered to be asked to do this, and I can’t thank SWIFT’s Innotribe team enough both for this session and and for a terrific 2019 event.

And to finish, here’s what a couple of other people had to say about it...

Hurray! It’s Identity Day!

Goodness me it’s International Identity Day again - the years just fly by!  And to celebrate this September 16th, the crazy misguided fools over at the London Publishing Partnership are allowing people to download an electronic version of my book “Identity is the New Money” for free! Just for today, I know, but still… giving it away! Free! Unbelievable. I mean, I know it came out five whole years ago, but still. Free? I don’t know what they are hoping to achieve from this ridiculous act of largesse, but if you want to take advantage of their mad promotional skills, pop over to London Publishing Partnership and download the PDF for nothing nada zip for today only.

(Note: the picture above is the cover from the Italian version of the book which is, naturally, more stylish than the English one.)