DIF recently sat down with Pakorn Leesakul, the CEO and Founder of Finema, and his innovation Manager Nuttawut Kongsuwan, to learn more about their decentralized identity platform and how they have been impacting the Southeast Asia region. Finema has been driving adoption within Thai government agencies and through the development of a decentralized identity ecosystem including the Thailand Blockchain Services Infrastructure inspired by the EBSI, (European Blockchain Services Infrastructure) and the development of a standard for digital wallets in Thailand, based on the European digital wallet. Watch the entire interview at https://youtu.be/FJbl8_LSsGk
LIMARI: I'm also curious to hear more about your user adoption journey. What were some of the challenges that you confronted when you were getting your platform adopted by the government? Were there challenges with interoperability that you confronted, that you overcame? I would be interested to hear more about that.
PAKORN: I can share about some of our customers like the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA) under the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society of Thailand. That’s a big pilot project called the ETDA SSI Project. We helped them build their whole infrastructure of SSI. We came up with a use case for them on medical and educational certificates. We also worked with the Ministry of Commerce to help them issue their digital certificate attestation.
Another one is from (NBTC) National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission. That’s another client that we helped to create a platform to register and issue digital certificates for licensing.
LIMARI: How have you been able to integrate what you're doing with decentralized identity with the existing technology at the government agencies you’re working with?
PAKORN: It’s all about the discussion of verifiable credentials. Educate them, that if you have any document on your system, if you're issuing it in the form of verifiable credentials you can be interoperable with other government departments. It’s not a PDF, it's a new generation of a file that you can interop with and you can verify between one another.
We focused on that when we approached the government agencies. I think we talked about verifiable credentials for almost six years, since we set up this company. We helped the Ministry of Digital economy to introduce the verifiable credential open standard in the Thai language. How to use this kind of standard, what is the use case, where it's beneficial, and then, a lot of people became excited about it and tried to implement verifiable credentials here in Thailand.
LIMARI: One thing I'm very curious about is also the discussion of decentralized identifiers, because I know this is a concept that can be a little bit more challenging for people to grasp who are not familiar with decentralized identity. Is that a discussion that you've also broached with people in the government layers about being able to get into maybe the details of decentralized identifiers?
NUTTAWUT: I think that's one of the reasons why we work closely with the main regulator in Thailand to issue standards. Once we had national standards, then it has created awareness in the public about the technology.
We also try to drive the ecosystem in Thailand. In the recent year we have seen a lot of interest of other organizations as compared to years ago. Six years ago we were pretty much the only organization in Thailand talking about this space. In the past one or two years we have seen multiple companies popping up and using similar technology.
LIMARI: Wow, that's amazing. So it sounds like it's really taking off.
PAKORN: We are very happy to see other people figure out the things that we share and then everyone tries to come up with an open standard. That’s what we’re really happy about.
LIMARI: That brings me to my final question, which is, what is the vision for Finema? Where do you see things going? How do you see Finema changing the way we're going to do things in the future?
PAKORN: I think here in the Southeast Asia region, it's not easy to sell a product about decentralized identity. They have to come up with the whole solution. You have to take care of the existing system they have, meaning you build a custom system for them, and then deliver your product inside of this. You can do that, or you can influence them to do something like that. After you have many departments use your product, we can influence them to make something interoperable between each other department. That's the strategy for the government in Thailand.
For me, my mission is not only for Thailand. We focus on the Southeast Asia region like Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, to copy some use cases that we implemented, and had success with in Thailand to approach local partners in these countries and let them bring this to their government departments. That’s the mission. Let’s think about if we can take something like the consular department here in Thailand and consular department in Singapore and we create a bilateral policy of using digital passports on a mobile phone instead of a physical passport. Then a Singaporean and Thai can fly over with their mobile phone.
That’s the vision of our company. We want to help government to transform any citizen service. It’s all about citizen service, because we have the strength in digital identity, how to onboard users, how to maintain the private key verification and authentication. In all the projects we involve ourselves in, it's all about citizen service.
NUTTAWUT: I’d like to add on that as well, so what Leesakul just mentioned is the company vision. I can add, the innovation team’s vision at Finema as well. So currently we’re working on a decentralized organization identity. We are developing a prototype for issuing.
legal entity identity as a verifiable credentials, so that legal representatives of organizations can typically prove that they really represent the organization and get the authority from the person who, legally by that jurisdiction to give the power or the authority to the representative to represent that organization.
LIMARI: Thank you both of you for joining me today for this member spotlight. it's been really eye opening to learn more about Finema and I hope to intersect both of you again soon.