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On Thursday, November 9th, THEKEY formally introduced themselves to the NEO community by holding an AMA on the NEO subreddit. Members from THEKEY who attended the AMA were Catherine Li (Founder and CEO), Ken Huang (Chief Blockchain and IDV Scientist) and Guochun Xu (CTO).

THEKEY is an identity verification project that was founded in 2014. Based in Singapore, THEKEY initially raised 10 million RMB in seed funding, with an additional USD$25 million raised to date. Since then, they have gone onto obtain 23 copyrights, register 15 patents and deploy their identity verification solution to two pilot cities (Kaifeng and Jiaxing) with another 41 cities covering 130 million people on the way. THEKEY have also signed commercial agreements with some of China’s biggest companies including Ant Financial, China Minsheng Bank, China Unicom, China Re and Ping An.

In an effort to further enhance their identity verification technology, THEKEY will be powered by NEO to integrate their multi-dimension identity verification technology with blockchain through NeoContract. When asked during the AMA if THEKEY will be the solution for NeoID, Catherine Li responded ‘THEKEY share the consensus with this idea and is willing to provide digital identity application for NEO ecosystem, in order to co-establish the digital identity system together with NEO. We are also happy to cooperate with NEO on more digital identity applications in the future.’

One user asked the team to compare THEKEY’s solution with existing blockchain identity project, Civic. In response, Catherine stated she believes they have three advantages over Civic and existing digital identity solutions. Firstly, as data is gathered in real time, it is compressive and reliable, with the added benefit of being validated by government agencies or institutions in advance. Secondly, as they use existing data sources, they avoid duplicate work on collecting, processing and authenticating data. Third, they provide a better user experience as it’s not necessary for users to install any applications or upload documents to create their digital identity.

THEKEY revealed some initial details about their token sale, stating that the total token supply will be 10 billion, and they expect the exchange rate to be roughly 1,000,000 TKY tokens to 1 BTC. The token sale will be held no later than February 4th. The TKY token will be utilised by both users and service providers to settle smart contracts, and purchase products and services within the ecosystem. THEKEY believe that as identity verification is required in all aspects of life, including security checks, access permissions, medical treatments and shopping, that the use of the TKY token will be very high.

AMA questions and answers can be found below, or you can visit the AMA thread at this link – https://www.reddit.com/r/NEO/comments/7areac/ama_on_9th_nov_thekey_a_decentralized_ecosystem/


RustyLogical
How does this not clash with the in development NEO digital identity?

Catherine_THEKEY
The smart economy NEO put forward is comprised of Digital Asset, Smart Contract and Digital Identity, which is an entire ecosystem. THEKEY project will definitely be favorable for NEO Smart Economy instead of conflicting with it. Digital identity is an indispensable element of NEO smart economy. THEKEY share the consensus with this idea and is willing to provide digital identity application for NEO ecosystem, in order to co-establish the digital identity system together with NEO. We are also happy to cooperate with NEO on more digital identity applications in the future.


minReddit
Another qtum dapp shift to NEO? Correct me if I am wrong.

Catherine_THEKEY
We have just developed a strategic cooperation relationship with Neo. Supported by the Neo technical team we will develop our blockchain based dynamic multi-dimension identification technology (BDMI) with NEOContract. As you are aware of that identity verification is a fundamental layer of blockchain technology and most of DAPPs, it is therefore we will be definitely happy to work with all public chains, including Qtum. Qtum is, of course, one of the best blockchain application platforms.


Sk0ds
Ahh the digital identity element I always wondered about with Neo. What we’re witnessing here is the Chinese Gov giving the nod to a blockchain-based infrastructure as a new foundation for society and governance. All running on Neo. Very bullish.

Catherine_THEKEY
Right and thank you.


CPlusConcepts
Hello. Thank you for taking questions. I’m just wondering….
What exactly are the implications for individuals who do not live in the particular region that this technology is being developed in. In particular I myself am an American are there any use cases planned in which this technology might affect my life in some sort of social or economic way?
Is it safe to presume that your partnership with Neo is a foundational component to Neo ID?
Thank you for your time.

Catherine_THEKEY
1. 1)At present we are not in U.S and therefore we are not able to provide identity verification service. (we wish we can reach there in the not-so-distant future) 2)But if you would like to trigger an IDV request (like personal credit report) against someone in the city our planned product is deployed you will get the service. Of course the service can only be delivered on the condition s/he accepts your request. 2. Yes, you can presume it.


birch_baltimore
Is there a token? If so, what is the convincing argument of its utility? I come from Ethereum, and the flood of utility tokens with little utility is frustrating. Thank you.

Catherine_THEKEY
Sure, the token is there. All the participants of THEKEY ecosystem, Validators including THEKEY, Users as well as Service Providers, will use TKY token as indicated in our White Paper. I would like to emphasis that since every aspect of life is in need of identity verification, like security check, access permission, medical treatment and shopping etc. I believe that utility of TKY token will be extremely high.


stevechaw
I saw the reports. Alipay can do that functions too, how do you compete with Alipay?

guochunxu
Unlike other smart payment in our daily life for shopping etc., which is made out of personal bank account, social medical insurance payment is made out of social medical insurance account. More requirements need to be fulfilled before social medical insurance payment is made. Due to the nature of social medical insurance, it is critical to identify if the payment applicant is the same person as the beneficiary of the scheme.

therefore we are not the direct competitor of ali pay. please refer to our white paper for more details.


tree_t36
Q1. What type of partnership between THEKEY and partners like Ant Financial / China Re / China Unicom / China Minsheng Bank / Ping An / Unis ? Any sources or news I can refer to?
Q2. Where are two pilot cities of THEKEY’s first-generation IDV solution for mobile social insurance pay? Can I have the names? Any sources or news I can refer to?

Catherine_THEKEY
1. Commercial contracts signed with the firms as listed left.
2. The name of pilot cities are, Jiaxing and Kaifeng. The sources or news you can refer to are as follows, Kaifeng product: http://news.kf.cn/2015/1023/170072.shtml http://www.kf.cn/blwb/html/2015-10/27/content_237548.htm http://news.kf.cn/2015/1029/170801.shtml http://www.kf.cn/kfrb/html/2015-11/02/content_238272.htm http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/lUJkFVG1RUP1_CF8CWBTYQ http://www.sohu.com/a/149355185_420900 https://www.yidianzixun.com/article/0GcNpJeo http://news.dahe.cn/2016/04-21/106746146.html Jiaxing Product: http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/xD42Ynji6ouH14RaUbakGA http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/xtGop7zIaVJ5kRx-9H0gug http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/YKPlfPDVv-cgSRYSKFRyWA http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/QtHMufbBbY182PSrArJztA http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/mcYZDk_–V0ZB4UkgmkzvQ http://www.sohu.com/a/154931354_420900 https://www.yidianzixun.com/article/0Gmp8quH http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/a79f0dyBHnlwgZGEvPv3rg


lordsaroman
Looking the plummet of 99% of “utility token” ICOs on Etherum one can say that it is almost impossible that we are going to have our grandma, regular Joe, or neighbors had to deal with 1000 utility tokens if they want to use some services. Tell us why an average Joe would ever use your utility token? How much tokens do you think will be spent on your platform per year?

Catherine_THEKEY
All the participants of THEKEY ecosystem, Validators including THEKEY, Users as well as Service Providers, will use TKY token as indicated in our White Paper. I would like to emphasis that since every aspect of life is in need of identity verification, like security check, access permission, medical treatment and shopping etc. I believe that utility of TKY token will be extremely high. Grandma and average Joe may not know other tokens, but they will for sure know TKY.


TommySaints
Is THEKEY translated name of the project? Does it originally have Chinese name?

Catherine_THEKEY
THEKEY is THEKEY, no Chinese name.


zenwanabe
Is there an official reddit sub I can follow?

Catherine_THEKEY
We are currently working on it and it will be ready after 17 Nov, please stay tuned


Twinko56
Thanks for holding this AMA.
1) If the government doesn’t support ICOs, why would they support your project, knowing you held an ICO ? Isn’t it a problem for them that there would ‘only’ be non chinese people backing it initially, and you raised money through a mechanism they don’t support ?
I truely like the project, the smart economy and you seem like a competent team. But this project can not be led without government approval, so I’m just trying to understand and be cautious

Catherine_THEKEY
1. Blockchain technology and ICO are two different things.
2. We don’t conduct ICO in China. It’s a worldwide activity since blockchain is a worldwide technology.
3. The Chinese government is supporting and advocating the development and application of blockchain technology in different industries. The projects we have implemented show that the local governments are encouraging the utilization of the government data through blockchain technology.


NEO2MOON
How does this integrate with NEO? Is THEKEY powered by the NEO blockchain and will it register digital identities as assets on the NEO chain?

Catherine_THEKEY
Yes, THEKEY is powered by Neo. We plan to leverage NeoContract for identity governance. We will also evaluate and leverage NeoFS for distributed data storage. We will evaluate and leverage NeoQS for anti quantum encryption.


Bad_dota_playa
Why did the project switch to NEO? With so much state enterprises and major Chinese companies backing the project, I can only assume the Chinese government has something to do with this?

Catherine_THEKEY
1.As mentioned above, we have just developed a strategic cooperation relationship with Neo. Supported by the Neo technical team we will develop our blockchain based dynamic multi-dimension identification technology (BDMI) with NEOContract. As you are aware of that identity verification is a fundamental layer of blockchain technology and most of DAPPs, it is therefore we will be definitely happy to work with all public chains, including Qtum. Qtum is, of course, one of the best blockchain application platforms. 2.Nothing to do with any government institutions.


DhaMyth
Clearly THEKEY has Government backed partners. How will Chinese regulations affect the future of THEKEY tokens?
Are there any other NEO platform based ICOs (such as NEX) that you may be collaborating with?

guochunxu
Chinese regulations will not affect the future of THEKEY tokens. The ICO is banned by Chinese government, but Chinese government is strongly promoting the blockchain technology.


AvariciousPotbelly
Thank you for doing this. The white paper mentions big data being contributed to TheKey from various Chinese government agencies encompassing several hundred million people. Could you expand upon this? How many data points per individual and the importance of this to the project?

Catherine_THEKEY
Thank you for your question. As pointed out in our whitepaper, basically we are collecting and using 3 sets of data from various resources, not only the government, namely, 1. government ID data, 2. behavior data, 3. scene data. Government ID data are from several different government agencies, such as social insurance agencies, public security agencies, office of civil affairs, etc. Behavior data are normally from utility companies, financial institutions, like banks, insurance company, hospitals, drug stores, internet companies, etc. Scene data are normally from service providers. In addition to the above, we also have supporting database like ontology, knowledge base, fact base, medical insurance policy and regulation database, product database, etc. If you are talking about big data, it’s not only big, it’s huge. We are dealing with PB level data everyday.


wirdumcoin
COuld you compare Civic with thekey?

Catherine_THEKEY
Compared to Civic and other peers in IDV industry, who are also applying IDV into Blockchain, BDMI has the following three advantages: 1. More reliable results – The supporting data is gathered in real time, is comprehensive, accurate and reliable. The data is also validated in advance by government agencies or other public institutions. 2. Lower cost – Full use of existing data sources. Avoidance of duplicate work for data collection, processing and authentication, 3. Better user experience –It is not necessary for individual users to install any application or upload any information.


Atomic_ghost1
I know you’re probably pretty tired of so many questions about the government situation over there, but the world is intensely curious.
Would it be safe to say that the government can’t outright support you officially, but has reviewed or examined the project and considers it as acceptable under the current climate?

Catherine_THEKEY
The Project team has already got duly authorized access to government ID data since development of the first generation DMI solution as indicated in our white paper. But the project is not reviewed or examined by the government. Token raising is just like a traditional fund raising activity, so there’s no need to get the approval from any government beforehand.


pho_tai
Is this ico on Neo ? I did not see in whitepaper partner with Neo at all? And how many token are there ? What is ico date and price 🙂

Catherine_THEKEY
1.Yes, this ICO will be on Neo. 2.The total supply of TKY is 10 billion. 3.We will stage our ICO no later than next Feb. 4.The price will be 1 BTC=1,000,000TKY. The price might be changed due to fluctuation of BTC and the ICO market.


Atomic_ghost1
Hi! Thank you for your time and doing this!
1. Do you feel as though your role in digital identity will help increase the rate of getting the Chinese government to allow the exchange of digital currency with CNY directly again?
2. For Catherine: in my experience, crypto currency in general has been a primarily male dominanted space. Have you felt like this has affected you in any way? Additionally, do you have any ideas regarding getting more women interested in the industry?
3: Bonus question: how does your company feel about a tether token for CNY on the neo blockchain, something that would be similar to what USDT (tether) is to ethereum?
Thank you again for your time and work, and welcome to Neo!

Catherine_THEKEY
1. I don’t think our project will have any impact on the Chinese government’s decision on the exchange of digital currency; 2. As a female I don’t think crypto currency is a male dominated space, or I am being affected in any negative way. 3. Bones question: We have not considered this argument related to CNYT or something like that. We will think about that later on 🙂


kingscrown69
when will the ICO be planned ?

Catherine_THEKEY
We are planning to stage our ICO in Feb. next year, the latest.


mrontosaurus
Hi THEKEY team. It is mentioned that your headquarters has been established in Singapore. Will your team actually be based there? Has any partnership been established with any Singaporean agencies?

Catherine_THEKEY
The Foundation is based in Singapore, but the team is not based in Singapore. We don’t have partnership with Singaporean agencies yet, but we are planning to expand the business globally.


cryptomeh
Thank you for taking the time for this AMA.
Q1: WHY did you switch from QTUM do NEO? What makes NEO your platform of choice?
Q2: Why will you connect your private chain to Neo? What future are you expecting for NEO?
Q3: Will THEKEY be the solution to NEOID?

guochunxu
A1: We have just developed a strategic cooperation relationship with Neo. Supported by the Neo technical team we will develop our blockchain based dynamic multi-dimension identification technology (BDMI) with NEOContract. As you are aware of that identity verification is a fundamental layer of blockchain technology and most of DAPPs, it is therefore we will be definitely happy to work with all public chains, including Qtum. Qtum is, of course, one of the best blockchain application platforms.

A2 & A3: The smart economy NEO put forward is comprised of Digital Asset, Smart Contract and Digital Identity, which is an entire ecosystem. THEKEY project will definitely be favorable for NEO Smart Economy instead of conflicting with it. Digital identity is an indispensable element of NEO smart economy. THEKEY share the consensus with this idea and is willing to provide digital identity application for NEO ecosystem, in order to co-establish the digital identity system together with NEO. We are also happy to cooperate with NEO on more digital identity applications in the future.


tosadtotell
Will the token TKY be indivisible like NEO? Is there a newsletter signup for updates on the project? Great project, by the way !

guochunxu
TKY will be indivisible. We are working on newsletter and will inform you when this is ready to sign up.


Dahofi
Hey, thank you very much for your time. I’d like to ask 2 questions:
1. you said your ICO is planned to Feb 18′ the latest. considering the ICO ban imposed by the Chinese Gov, how is this possible?
2. sorry if this is too straight-forward, but it can be understood from your white paper that the Chinese Gov can benefit and\or be related to your project. are there any type of connections to the government?
Thank you again and lots of luck

Catherine_THEKEY
1. Yes, you are right. ICO is banned in China. To make sure that all applicable laws are strictly respected and followed, 1) The issuance of this ICO is not a Chinese firm. 2) We have made the following two points crystal clear in all of our documents, – Each buyer must meet the criteria of the “accredited investor” as defined under the applicable laws of the jurisdiction where s/he resides, if any, and – The buyer has full power and authority to enter into the terms and will not violate any applicable laws. In addition to the above we also have very strict KYC policy in place during ICO to ensure no Chinese citizen could participate our ICO since they are not the “accredited investors” as defined by the existing Chinese laws and regulations.
2. The token distribution activity has nothing to do with any government, nor the Chinese government.


Neocorn
Are any of the members or partners of THEKEY in any way affiliated with the project named “Identity Chain” setup in Guiyang? Many Thanks

guochunxu
We have no any relationship with “Identity Chain”.


wirdumcoin
Hi THEKEY,
Cool project! So the product won,t be usable before end of 2020? So it,s a long term investment. Or are there milestone that it grows in value?
greet gijs

Catherine_THEKEY
We do have a lot of milestones set. Please refer to the Roadmap in the whitepaper.


DhaMyth
Please let us know why THEKEY would create its own public chain later? Thanks

kenhuangus
As THEKEY ecosystem grows, we expect that the load to any single chain will be huge. To reduce the load, we envision that we will have a multiple level public chain built for THEKEY and that will be win-win for both NEO and THEKEY project.


Atomic_ghost1
From our slack channel-
Will you be rolling out your product on neo all at once, or do you think that you will be doing parts in installments?

Catherine_THEKEY
In installments, of course.


tosadtotell
Do we need to be accredited investors to participate in the ICO , what about the pre-distribution period? Thank you

Catherine_THEKEY
Yes, you do need to be accredited investors to participate in the ICO as well as in the pre-distribution period. Please refer to our official website for the Pre-distribution guidance.


mrontosaurus
1. How much seed funding was raised in 2014 (and from who)? Were there subsequently more rounds of funding?
2. What in your opinion are some good Chinese sites for news related to the blockchain industry in China? I can read Chinese but am not from there.

Catherine_THEKEY 3 points 4 hours ago
1. We raised 10 million RMB seed fund in 2014, which is about 1.5 million USD. We have raised more than 25 million USD afterwards.
2. In our opinion, one of the longest history website in blockchain industry is www.8btc.com.


tosadtotell
Which jurisdiction/country do you refer to as “accredited investor” , Is it the US? Europe? China?

Catherine_THEKEY
Each buyer must meet the criteria of the “accredited investor” as defined under the applicable laws of the jurisdiction where s/he resides, if any, and The buyer has full power and authority to enter into the terms and will not violate any applicable laws.


wirdumcoin
i checked the whitepaper and i see not alot of milestones. only ico, june 2018 testing and december 2020 launch. What i want to know when is there a product that institutes can use? thx

Catherine_THEKEY
Regarding this question, I’d like to be more conservative. Between 2018-2019 there will be product ready for insititutes, and our position now is to stick to our roadmap.


DhaMyth
Where would the Chinese people buy your tokens from? Are the Chinese locals allowed to buy the tokens?

guochunxu
Apart from purchasing, there are many ways to get the TKY tokens, please refer to the ecosystem chapter in our white paper. In addition, Chinese are allowed to trade the cryptocurrency via OTC or via exchanges abroad.


Atomic_ghost1
How about a lighter question: what do you all do for fun? Favorite hobbies, TV shows, books?

guochunxu
Haha, we have of course many hobbies, like doing sports, playing cards, watching movies etc.


thisthingismud
Hello, Congratulations for the two awards you won this year.
Judging from the achievements to date, TheKey’s team is very pro active – How was the idea of TheKey conceived?

This was on a previous post – would you care to respond to it.

It is well known that biometrics should not be used as a form of authentication.
You will be digitizing those biometrics, and storing them much like regular data.
What if that data stream is compromised at the network or hardware level? They just stole your face/fingerprint/dna.
It doesnt matter how long it takes, its just a matter of time before this data is leaked or biometrics are conned.
When that happens, youre acrewed because you cant change your face or fingerprints. Your stuck with that “password” for life.
In this manner, biometrics begin to look a lot like the SSN debacle from Equifax. It is a piece of information that is readily availavle yet you need to keep it secret?
Biometrics should be used as a USERNAME only, not as a password.
I am waiting for a blockchain tech to take security seriously.
In order to do so, you need multi factor authentication, which must include SOMETHING YOU KNOW.
Something you know (a password) is more secure then something you are (biometrics).
Something you know is also protected by the US Consititution 5th Amendment, where as something you are is not. The government (or other entity) can easily compel you for your biometric data.
Even Apple has seen this, by allowing facial recog to only unlock USER mode, so that full forensic dumps of a phone cannot be done unless you have a PIN (ie: something you know)
Thank You

kenhuangus
Thank you for your thoughtful questions and concerns. You are right, that we need to have multiple factor authentication in place. The dynamic and multiple dimension data used for identity verification is similar idea.