ING Bank Introduces Open-Source Zero Knowledge Technology for Blockchain Privacy

News and Analysis

ING, the Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation, announced today the release of its open source blockchain tool Zero-Knowledge Set Membership (ZKSM).

The solution marks the further development of the bank’s Zero-Knowledge Range Proof (ZKRP), which empowers clients by improving privacy in a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) environment.

Specifically, the tool allows a blockchain to confirm a piece of data belongs to a specified set, while not revealing its full characteristics.

ZKRP enables numeric data to be validated with a specific number range – for example, a mortgage applicant could prove that their salary sits within a certain range without revealing the exact figure. At the same time, the ZKSM technology allows for alphanumeric data to be validated within a specified set. This opens up a whole new range of applications which can protect data privacy on blockchain.

Furthering the ZKRP capability, ZKSM can prove dimensions such as geographic positioning making it faster and more cost-efficient. As an example, in a Know Your Customer (KYC) check, a user can be validated to be part of a group – an EU citizen – without disclosing the exact country that he/she lives in. If the data set formed includes all countries in the European Union and if the private information given is the country of residence of a user, the user can prove that he/she is an EU citizen.

According to ING, DLT presents a huge opportunity to increase efficiency and simplicity both for financial services and clients who have dealings with financial institutions. One of the major challenges in implementing new DLT is protecting private information on a public ledger, where changes must be verified by each participant in the network.

Annerie Vreugdenhil, Head of Wholesale Banking Innovation at ING, said:

“ING’s overall goal with DLT and specifically blockchain is to create solutions that empower our clients to transform their business models. One of the key elements in this process for clients is how to deal with data and privacy. ZKSM is the next step in this journey.”

ZKSM is being launched as an open source. This enables external developers to access and further adapt the solution, encouraging the industry to pool its wider expertise to evolve the technology to meet industry demand.

The bank had launched similar data privacy enhancements before, beginning with Zero-Knowledge Range Proof (ZKRP) in November 2017.

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