I am so excited today to announce the launch of Qui. Over the past several months as I reflected on what I wanted after Wave, I knew I wanted to do something that mattered. If I was to throw myself at a new venture, I wanted it to be something big. Something that touches us all, and makes things better for everyone.
The opportunity that drew me in is nothing less than our individual identities: how to use, manage and control the elements of your own identity that allow you to navigate the modern digital age.
At Wave, we had worked through identity challenges first hand. Specifically, entrepreneurs had to jump through hoops in order to confirm their identity and receive financial services. Though we used the best technology available, the process was cumbersome, invasive, repetitive, and could take days. Not to mention that it feels like you’re being treated with suspicion the entire time. It’s a bad experience for the individual, and it’s expensive and slow for the enterprise — and the process still leads to false negatives and false positives.
That brought me to the broader challenges we all have regarding our digital identities. By identity, I mean all the attributes that make up who we are. It starts with our name, address, email and birth date, of course. But there’s much more — things like where we work, our professional designations, our educational degrees and our memberships. Today, it also encompasses things we may own, both physical and digital, like cars, property or even NFTs.
For so many things, online and off, we are asked to prove these things about our identity. Proof of income when you’re applying for a mortgage. Proof of age when you’re trying to get into a nightclub. Proof of your college degree when you’re applying for a job. And now even things like proof of ownership of a token, or as we’ve seen recently, proof of vaccination.
Each one of these presents some friction, some inconvenience, some pain. Proving claims about your identity can be challenging, slow, risky, repetitive and often requires multiple parties. And once you’ve shared the data associated with your identity (often more data than is actually necessary), it gets stored in some database somewhere, out of your control, at risk of being leaked, or at a bare minimum used in ways that you did not intend.
Individuals like you and me have become increasingly concerned about the way our identity is used and misused. Why should others make money exploiting my identity? I want to properly own and control all the details of my identity, both for my benefit (to get the products or services or experiences that I want, faster and without friction) and for my protection (only give the necessary information to the right people, when and how I want to).
Decentralized identity is an answer to many of these issues. With user-controlled, delightful experiences for individuals, and robust APIs and SDKs for companies, Qui will give users complete control of what they share at a granular level. And Qui will make commercial activities flow more easily, with greater trust for businesses and greater security for individuals.
Our goal isn’t to just build amazing technology. It’s also about accelerating the adoption of decentralized identity in everyday scenarios, involving everyone. And, importantly, building a great place to work with a great team that wants to make a big impact on how the world works.
We have been very fortunate to find an amazing group of investors and angels who believe in us and our vision (see here for that). Now comes the most important part: building an amazing team with diverse skill sets and viewpoints, to join us on this journey (see here for more on that).
These next months will be exciting, defining and launching our products and strategies, and working with technology partners that will define a new era. I look forward to sharing news with you about all this and more.
Kirk Simpson is the co-founder and CEO of Qui, and co-founder and former CEO of Wave Financial Inc., which was acquired by H&R Block in 2019. Kirk led Wave from 2010 to 2022, growing the company to revenues of $100 million and a team of 350.