4 Pieces of Advice our CTO Has for Companies Developing Identity Products

Apr 25, 2024 | Technology & Innovation

For companies developing products in the booming identity and privacy space, our CTO, Dr Paul Ashley, has this simple but powerful advice:  

  1. “Have a way into your app that’s free, then have tiers starting cheaply; for example, 99 cents. Users tend to go up sub levels as they embrace and rely on the app.”  
  1. Focus on uses cases more than features: “Use cases are interesting to users.” 
  1. Listen to users through support. “Get stuff out to real users; get it in production so you can learn what’s right and wrong.” 
  1. Look for processes where you’re “using paper or have tricky integration challenges” and apply future-focused decentralized identity technology to find a solution.  

Dr Ashley should know: not only is he in demand on the decentralized identity speaking circuit, he has been at the helm of privacy pioneer, Anonyome Labs, alongside CEO JD Mumford for years. 

Dr Ashley gave the advice on a recent episode of the Future of Identity podcast with host Riley Hughes. 

In the episode, Dr Ashley takes the listener through the history and success of Anonyome Labs’ all-in-one privacy app MySudo, as well as our enterprise platform, Sudo Platform (for which MySudo is an exemplar application), and explains how our products link to and enable decentralized identity—the biggest privacy breakthrough of the next decade.  

As Riley says, “This is a conversation that will interest anyone who has a passion for privacy and safety online and will be very insightful for anyone building a consumer identity product.” 

Listen to the episode now. 

Apart from product development advice, the episode covers 6 topics: 

  1. What’s the WHY for MySudo? 

Dr Ashley explains how the erosion of privacy online and the rise of data brokers and surveillance capitalism led Anonyome Labs to create our innovative ID tech product, MySudo.  

“You could see the user really had very little hope of protecting themselves. We wanted to offer tech for everyday users that provides them greater privacy, greater safety and security and our mission was to deliver product in that space,” Dr Ashley says. 

Now highly regarded as the world’s only all-in-one privacy app, MySudo allows users to create secure digital profiles or personas called Sudos, with unique disposable phone numbers, emails, credit cards, handles, and private browsers to use across the internet. 

As host Riley points out, with hundreds of thousands of users, “MySudo has defied conventional wisdom that consumers won’t pay for identity services, making it among a handful of successful, sustainable ID tech businesses.”  

Discover MySudo

  1. What’s the history of MySudo? 

Dr Ashley says Anonyome Labs realized early the privacy problem was an identity problem. 

“The identity problem was that when you went out into the world and did different things, it was always you with the same identifiers and it made it very simple for the trackers to follow you around. That was because users were using their single, real identity to do everything. Then, if there was a sale or theft of that info, the user was in trouble,” he explained. 

In response, Anonyome Labs came up with the idea of a Sudo, based on the concept of a pseudonym, and then applied the concept of compartmentalization. MySudo leverages compartmentalization by allowing the user to have multiple Sudo digital identities or personas—one digital identity for shopping, one for dating, one for selling on classifieds, one close to the user’s legal identity for booking airline tickets, and so on. See how a MySudo user applies the app to their busy life.  

The MySudo we know today is actually a combination of two previous app iterations: Sudo app for communications and Sudo Pay which introduced Anonyome Labs’ virtual cards to meet the need for limitless virtual payment card options.  

As Dr Ashley told Riley Hughes, “Users can go out with a whole bunch of different personas to do different things. Each persona has its own attributes plus can have a VPN profile, virtual credit card and so on—all the things you need to be different in situation A and situation B.”  

“MySudo has been out there for three to four years now [as] a consumer ID product for creating personas for people to use throughout their life online,” Dr Ashley summarized. 

  1. How does Anonyome Labs market MySudo? 

In the podcast episode, Dr Ashley breaks down how Anonyome Labs has succeeded by taking a practical product approach and by talking about use cases more than features

The most important use case for MySudo is the user logging in with a separate Sudo email and phone number rather than their personal ones. Most MySudo users apply that capability to online shopping, selling, dating, and travel. Users can also do 2FA with MySudo, Dr Ashley says. 

  1. How does decentralized identity fit into our product roadmap? 

Dr Ashley outlines some of the opportunities and challenges in the “nascent space” of decentralized identity (DI), including navigating the complex technology landscape, how to find good problems for decentralized identity to solve first, and how Anonyome Labs’ experience building what some would call a “web2 identity product” (MySudo) is informing the way we tackle the UX of verifiable credentials

Dr Ashley says DI is a natural accompaniment to Sudos: “We came at MySudo from the privacy direction—a toolkit of privacy tools. Then we saw decentralized identity come along and we said straight away it’s a tech that’s 100% designed for privacy and safety,” Dr Ashley explains. 

Anonyome Labs has been active in the DI space ever since: helping to run three DI blockchains, actively contributing to DI standards, contributing source code back to the DI open source community, and building DI capabilities into Sudo Platform for enterprises to leverage, including identity wallets.  

“DI is the future-leaning part of the business and we’re 100% behind it,” Dr Ashley says.  

  1. How will Anonyome Labs take the DI concepts to the people? 

Dr Ashley says in the past four years DI has boomed, including around standards and what he calls “the killer feature of DI, verifiable credentials”, which has led to the need for an identity wallet: “There’s no question that having that stack is correct,” Dr Ashley says. 

Dr Ashley then runs through many use cases for DI, including the big one: selective disclosure around digital proof of identity, where “we’re already seeing lots of great government uses such as licenses,” and everyday applications such as gym memberships.  

“We have got to stop people having hundreds of different passwords in a password manager.  

“Even just managing the log-in problem will be a marvelous thing for the world,” Dr Ashley says.  

Read our whitepaper: Realizing the Business Value of Decentralized Identity.  

Dr Ashley told Riley Hughes that Sudos are a bridge between the old and new worlds of identity management: “This technology is absolutely perfect for Anonyome Labs and fits into the Sudo perfectly.” 

And interest from enterprise is booming: “All of a sudden there are a lot of organizations wanting to do projects in this area. We have a lot of expertise over four-plus years, plus two years of project experience. A lot of enterprises are saying this tech looks good. The timing is great; the wave is cresting.” 

“But we’re not looking at boiling the ocean. It’s about making processes more efficient— replacing paper-based systems [with] simpler, cheaper [processes] using verifiable credentials. 

“Enterprises should look for processes where [they’re] using paper or have tricky integration challenges. They should also listen to users through support. Get stuff out to real users; get it in production so you can learn what’s right and wrong,” Dr Ashley advises.  

Get more advice on getting started with DI here

  1. What does the future of identity look like to Dr Ashley?  

The podcast episode ends with this hope from Dr Ashley: “We have got to put the user back in control and swing the pendulum back. It’s not easy because of the trillion dollar companies like Meta and Google not wanting that. But enterprises are going back to respecting user data and only using what they need.  

“In the next 10 years, there’ll be a tussle but hopefully the user will win and get their privacy back, and hopefully the big data companies will have just faded away,” he says. 

Download MySudo as an exemplar of what’s possible with Sudo Platform  

For more on Sudo Platform, look on our website and contact us to talk about how we can help you quickly get identity and privacy products to market. 

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