Data breach events and identity theft are among the biggest downsides to doing business online. Every year, hundreds of millions of records are leaked in different security breach events. Last year, a single data leakage at Facebook left over 419 million records publicly accessible.
Blockchain startup Bloom wants to change that by giving consumers power over their identity and data. The Bloom mobile application, which allows consumers create and build a blockchain-based identity profile, is part of how the startup wants to improve consumer data security.
The company has now announced the launch of a second major version of the Bloom mobile app. With the new version, users now have access to what the company calls a “robust credit monitoring” feature including free credit score checks, which is possible thanks to a new partnership with American credit reporting agency TransUnion.
TransUnion is one of the three largest credit bureaus in the United States, along with Experian and Equifax.
Speaking about the partnership, Dao Boyle, senior vice president of Business Development at TransUnion Consumer Interactive
“A critical part of TransUnion’s mission is to empower consumers to better understand and manage their data and shape their financial lives,” Boyle said in a press release. “This partnership supports that mission, and we look forward to continuing working with Bloom to deliver innovative and impactful solutions to consumers.”
While Bloom brands itself as a decentralized, blockchain-based identity and credit-scoring solution, the company said it is not putting credit data onto the blockchain network at present.
The first version of the Bloom app, which the company claims has a combined download of 1 million on the Apple
To achieve this, Bloom employs an identity monitoring tool that scans the internet, including the dark web, to see if user data lurks . Bloom then notifies users whose information has been leaked, providing them with steps they can take to fix the issue.
“How our system works is that we allow the user to verify certain elements about their identities — their names, phone number, social handles and so on — and on an ongoing basis, we continuously scan for any leaks of their data,” said Bloom cofounder Jesse Leimgruber. “We connect with various sources to see maybe some information like your hotel check-in data was leaked in the Marriott breach or your financial data was leaked in the Equifax breach.”
The new free credit monitoring feature in Bloom 2, which is only available in the U.S., adds credit monitoring to the mix.
U.S.-based users will be able to opt-in to Bloom credit monitoring and check their traditional credit bureau data, including credit scores, current loans, credit cards and monthly payment.
Taking blockchain out of the marketing to gain traction
Bloom first launched its mobile app in 2018 but struggled to onboard users because they didn’t understand why they needed a blockchain-based ID. Having blockchain in the marketing message was only helpful in gaining the initial support of the blockchain development community. The startup had to remove blockchain from its core marketing message before it started gaining traction with mainstream users.
“We use the identity monitoring tool as a way to onboard users to create an ID and that is because if I told you that you need to set up a Bloom ID with no uses, you’ll probably say, ‘why do I need that? What do I need a blockchain ID for?’,” said Leimgruber. “Practically, speaking, about 90% of our mobile app users don’t really know much about blockchain. They just have these problems, like data leaks, that they want to solve without knowing don’t even know that blockchain is used behind the scene.”
Playing the Long Game
Despite putting the free identity and credit monitoring features at the forefront, Bloom’s long-term vision is to have as many people as it can across the world to establish their identity on its network, which is built on the ethereum blockchain. The company regards consumers in emerging markets as its primary targets and Leimgruber said the company has been engaging governments in these markets to adopt the Bloom ID.
“For us, the big win, would be taking countries who have weak identity systems — a lot of Asia, Africa and South America — and be able to roll out a secure identity system that works for them,” Leimgruber said. “U.S. isn’t our no. 1 market. These other countries are far more impactful.”
Bloom monetizes its platform primarily by working with governments and financial institutions to adopt its ID system, according to Leimgruber.
Stern competition awaits, however. Global technology company Microsoft
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify that Bloom is not putting credit data from TransUnion on any blockchain network.
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