Customer Interview with Teun Habraken, Growth Manager at Litentry

Find out how OnFinality, a multi-chain infrastructure provider, helps web3 teams like Litentry, save time and scale faster.

Customer Interview with Teun Habraken, Growth Manager at Litentry

Find out from Teun Habraken, Growth Manager at Litentry, how OnFinality helps Litentry optimise operational efficiency, save time, and allow the team to focus on their core expertise.

Learn about Litentry’s first-of-its-kind Identity Staking feature and how Decentralised Identifiers (DIDs) unlocks a world of equal opportunities for all.

🎙️ Watch the full video here ⬇️ or scroll down to read the full transcript!

(Disclaimer: The below transcript has been automatically transcribed hence there may be minor discrepancies with what was mentioned in the actual interview.)

00:00 Rob

welcome to OnFinality’s customer interview series where we learn more from leaders in the blockchain space about how in OnFinality’s infrastructure helps them build the decentralized future faster my name is Rob head of growth at OnFinality and today it’s my pleasure to have Teun from the Litentry a decentralized identity aggregator to join us for a chat on how they’re using OnFinality and everything in the DID space hey mate how’s it going

00:27 Teun

pretty good thank you rob happy to be here

00:31 Rob

thanks to start with can you tell our viewers more about Litentry and what problem you’re trying to solve


00:36 Teun

yeah very good question to start with to explain a bit what Litentry essentially tries to solve I probably have to go back a bit in time and and give some context on why there is a certain problem that we now are able to solve so I think in generally what has happened with the advent of blockchain we started unbundling these centralized databases so previously all of our data all of our transactions all of our yeah monetary and and Digital Data was stored on a centralized server it was controlled by a centralized entity and then we started sharing that that information or sharing those databases across nodes across Networks and that unbundling of data also allowed us to to have control over that data with the help of private keys with the help of cryptography so that’s a that’s a very interesting event and what is essentially happening now is we are owning our source of value we are owning our monkey pictures we are owning so many New Primitives so many new digital assets but we’re not really owning our Digital Data yet we are not 100% in control yet but we are definitely able to so we can now switch from this change of having major Tech monopolies owning our data and using it as an advertisement product to sell to to advertisers we can change towards a future where we own our own data since it is all based on on blockchains since it is all based on distributed networks and we can tell hey this little piece of data I would like to share that with a decentralized application this little piece of data or these several data points they make up my DAO history they make up my NFT trading history they make up my community contribution history it’s just that little piece of data that I would like to share to somebody else um and we are pretty good at at owning our nfts owning our tokens but we are not so good yet at owning our decentralized identity since some of the Primitives some of the standards that have to be enabled to do that um just aren’t mature yet as well as um the additional layer of privacy that would come in handy when you start owning your decentralized identity because what we’re seeing at the moment is we have these super transparent blockchains it’s all pretty pretty nice and cool we can check what has happened on chain we have this this ultimate provenance we can just prove that something happened we can we can make sure that that that it can be checked on chain uh code is law all of these all of these things but it’s just a little bit too transparent when you’re talking about yourself when you go on a on a on a Tinder date you’re not gonna tell what skeletons you have in the closet on the first day you know that’s something that just comes on later when you feel comfortable to tell a bit more about yourself and that’s the principle we also want to apply in in web3 or or the crypto industry we need that additional layer of privacy between what you send out about your identity and underlaying distributed database or or blockchain so so that’s what Litentry is focusing on on the one hand we provide an environment where users are able to store all of their sensitive relationships between accounts and now I’m talking about your web2 accounts such as Twitter Discord GitHub Reddit where a lot of your fragmented but tangible digital identity lists you have profiles there you have built up a personality there often a pseudonymous personality if you’re if you’re smart if you are already maybe one step ahead and then all of your web3 accounts or your blockchains accounts ethereum polkadot you name it any type of those ledger-based accounts that show any of the transactions and the provenance that you have created in the web3 world we allow we have created an environment where you can store and link all of those sensitive relationships together that might sound dangerous but we make use of trusted execution technology or trusted execution enclaves what does that mean it means that there is a specific Enclave on a CPU that allows users to store their sensitive relationships in there and that Enclave cannot be tampered with from the outside so it’s kind of a black box that we cannot look into yes we can pre-program it yes we can show you the uh the open source or public codes but only you decide what you put in and you can check based on the code what the output will be so that black box allows users to have complete control over this enclave and it also allows users to issue a certain truth statement about their digital identity whether web 2 or web3 and and prove that that statement was true since the trusted execution environment has all the information to double check whether that statement is true and an issue a credential that for example says I held polkadot since 2020 I’ve held ethereum since 2016. I have a crypto pump somewhere but you’re not disclosing the actual location or the amount of value or specific high resolution information that could dox you so that’s the additional layer of privacy that we want to add and then those truth statements that I’m talking about those are the standards or the the New Primitives that are emerging currently in the identity ecosystem we see all of our competitors all of our colleagues as I prefer to call them build on that same principle it’s called the verifiable credential there’s been a little bit of a of a tension between like what is it going to be what are we focusing on is it going to be soul-bound tokens is it going to be verifiable credentials I think both can perfectly live next to each other but this verifiable credential standard will most likely become something that lives next to your nfts next to your tokens inside your wallet and that you will control to communicate your identity details so that’s the a broad context of what Litentry is doing

07:18 Rob

amazing that yeah a huge amount to unpack there but uh yeah really really awesome answer I have to say that I had a mate uh talk to me for years about Bitcoin like back in the OG days and I I’m never really quite as intrigued by it but I never really quite got it and then I heard about ethereum and the smart contracts piece and then you know you could do these other things with data and stuff like that and that’s what really like lit the fire in me and and I know that I mean there’s many things that come off that but there’s a huge amount of like inefficiency in many of today’s systems because of this piece around like you know you you have data you want to share it you don’t want to share it too much in certain kinds and even some traditional companies that have your data also basically have no idea how to use it effectively right so yeah I think it’s a most people can um you know relate to that problem when it when they think about kind of the Facebooks and the Googles but it also reaches into everything else like you know when you’re trying to say buy a house or get lending for a car or whatever it might be there’s discrete bits of data you may want to share with certain people on that pathway that you know this can just unlock so many opportunities right

08:38 Teun

yeah 100% and the interesting part is that this mega engaging and experience that we received in web 2 like these companies almost knew anything about us so they could give us a completely tailored completely customized experience we’re we’re lacking that in web3 we don’t know anything about our users apart from one address and if the user has done some proper wallet hygiene that address doesn’t tell too much if that address contains everything then the application actually knows your complete web3 history which is also not ideal so we want to find that middle ground we want to allow applications and projects communities in web3 to get access to a certain amount of that uh identity of their users so that they can optimize the service optimize the experience so we hope that that era of web3 is coming where the experience also becomes a lot more engaging based on privatized user identity data


09:41 Rob

can you explain for people more around you know there are many use cases but you know the ones that you’re seeing most often of course like DeFi and there’s all sorts of you know other areas around you know communities and so on that I think are quite interesting that Litentry is exploring

10:00 Teun

yeah so we specifically within the identity industry and it’s really getting big it’s it’s booming right now we specifically focus on pseudonymous identity data we’re not as much heavily focused on on KYC data uh governmental data we’re not we don’t want to digitize your driver license we don’t want to digitize your ID we want you to have that internet ready identity we want you to have an identity that allows you to show provenance real an identity that allows you to send money to receive money to um to collect reputation all within that same uh handle or that same address or that same wallet most likely the wallet will become the in the entry point to web3 or it is already and it will just increase just like the browser was entry point to web2 and web one so that’s that’s what we’re focusing on this pseudonymous identity that allows you to be a minority in some place with uh sometimes from the outside appeared not such a great uh not such great characteristics but still get that job because you’ve just got all of the credentials in your wallet you can show off that you’re an excellent developer but um you might not get hired through a traditional uh hiring process so so those internet ready and pseudonymous economies is really something that we would like to unlock


11:40 Rob

awesome one thing I thought was quite intriguing was the stake your identity feature would you be able to share more about that

11:50 Teun

yeah this is this is actually interesting that feature it’s for us it signals all of the uh social and economic innovations that can happen with identity it’s not 100% defined yet how that feature will will roll out but we are rolling out the the close Alpha version of of our of our front end products the identity Hub next month so that is the first interface to our protocol the first first interface to that trusted execution environment that I talked about where users will be able to connect all of their accounts issue their credentials prove their identity generates scores that just gave a good non-discriminative picture of who they are so then on top of that we are exploring the different ways you could stake your identity what could that mean staking your identity it could mean that you want to be available for certain projects you want to you want you are interested in a certain niche you are happy to work with them you let them know hey I have staked a little bit of my reputation I am showing off that I have a certain interest in a niche why don’t you come to me and let’s together define what is the value of my identity let’s define let’s let’s go on that prize discovery what do you have to offer to me so that I would interact with your project and that’s a that’s a different that’s that’s a very interesting unlock so to say this this prize discovery of identity data because now the user starts to realize hey my data is is worth something why don’t I go in a discussion with the application that wants to offer myself another way of identity staking is okay I I stake my reputation I prove that I am human I prove that I my identity is worth something my pseudonymous reputation is worth something if I go if I if I show any malicious behavior if I show any bot-like behavior my stake might get slashed very similar to a a proof of stake uh principle where you want to uh have have a stick behind the door so to say to to just avoid any malicious behavior and incentivize good behavior so these are like for us identity staking it’s not 100% clear yet what that will be but it shows a direction or it shows new opportunities that are that will become available once yeah self-sovereign ownership of identity data becomes a reality


14:30 Rob

awesome yeah I mean one thing I noticed in one of your presentations was that you’re looking at integrating web2 Data such as you know Twitter or LinkedIn that kind of thing and yeah I think it’s been I’m not sure whether it’s part of your intention but that that type of thing around you know the ability for the individual to have a lot more control of their own history in terms of you know professional history I think if you could do anything to to beat LinkedIn I love it I can’t stand the thing and it seems like such a terrible uh you know mechanism these days especially in crypto uh you know to to verify whether someone’s you know suitable for a project and kind of the future of work right like it’s a global environment and everyone’s still captured in these kind of little ecosystems talking nonsense on LinkedIn about different things so yeah I think this is uh you know really interesting route around that piece

15:33 Teun

yeah 100% I’ve heard that one a couple of times we can completely imagine this use case where you have listed all of your credentials okay you’ve completed some some GitHub uh training you have deployed many contracts you it’s just 100 clear that you are fit for the job somebody doesn’t even have to check your resume they just see Credential Check check check check all the boxes are ticked bang you are hard for the job and within five minutes you should be working on that project uh smart contract will take care of the payments and everything is just like that that’s a type of future everybody can imagine and and where all of the all of the LinkedIn profile optimization Shenanigans can are just thrown out of the window because it’s on chain what a what you did and what you didn’t not do so that will be interesting

16:30 Rob

yeah super exciting at the moment uh you know there’s a lot of you know noise in crypto is like regulation and all sorts of you know things happening from a government point of view when we’re talking about you know personal data especially identity and then this sort of bridge with the crypto Universe how does that affect Litentry or are you guys having to navigate anything there or is it on the flip side promote like a massive like advertisement for this because of all of in the sort of intrusion if you will


17:15 Teun

yeah couple of things to unpack there so on one hand we see some sort of like big macro changes in terms of like how how to store your value and inflation of the dollar there’s a lot happening Twitter is is very hot these days or crypto Twitter at least and and I think like I cannot say much about that there’s there’s better sources to just inform you I think Balaji is is definitely one of the uh big speakers there on the other hand what I find very interesting and what is related to Litentry is art just content generation to the help of artificial intelligence deep fakes machine based content production like I do see a need for for uh once again provenance of content like is this content real who has produced it where does it come from proof that it is done or made or created by a human that there is actually somebody behind behind the shell I do see an opportunity there for for identity data for verifiable credentials so in terms of macro trends that could potentially be one that that’s a lot of players in the identity space could jump on and and help with but yeah in general we’re in this weird phase right where where all of the crypto native people have have they they understand the ecosystem and they are playing around but we need to bridge the the chasm towards the the majority we need to really start focusing on optimizing the user experience getting over the hurdle of of storing your seat trace and before all of those like Smooth UX implementations aren’t there as long as they are aren’t there it’s going to be hard to to adopt the the next horde so that’s something we’re mostly focusing on like how can we onboard the next uh a hundred thousand uh or million users with optimized user experience definitely definitely within just communicating your identity data yeah


19:27 Rob

yeah absolutely I mean obviously there’s a massive education piece that needs to come to play and I noticed that you know with this also people need to be careful that they could have potentially multiple profiles but that can still be linked right so as you mentioned before there’s a need for people to understand what even if they’ve got these different accounts that if they they can be merged and then people could perhaps have more information about that user and what they’d originally intended so there’s a lot of yeah education how are you guys kind of getting the word out now about Litentry or you know what’s the focus for you guys in terms of like you know use cases or people to bring onboard

20:18 Teun

so you can you can start like all at the bottom of the stack and like educate them about wallet hygiene don’t use one account for everything keep keep certain niches split across wallets and don’t centralize all of your your assets that’s one thing but it’s also about just making the user experience or creating a user experience that that that just how should I say it in a nice way like you want to avoid any any stupidity you want to avoid any any foolishness by telling a user hey this credential might dispose or it might disclose too much of your identity why don’t you lower the information of resolution why don’t you just tell that there is a certain amount that there is some assets but not the value not the location not the not uh not a high resolution of information that could get yourself doxed or that could help data trackers or data miners to to just bring all the dots together and then figure out who you are so people who are really concerned about their privacy who really want to live that pseudonymous life that they will have a lot or they will find a lot of benefit in in what we have to offer and then on the other hand the others there’s just so much terminology there’s so much concepts to get aware of when when you start in in web3 so we also go down traditional roads with yeah everything along the spectrum from from presentations to memes to blog posts to web3 beginner guides uh interactive interactive infrastructure models you you try to cater towards the the whole population across a complete spectrum yeah


22:12 Rob

yeah it’s interesting you mentioned around kind of the UI piece in regards to education and I think it’s often forgotten because I think there’s an example a couple weekends ago when there was the whole USDC unpegging event and there was one transaction that I saw that was shared on Twitter and I think it was someone swap two million USDC and some uh lending pool or some like and it had it uh it basically they ended up getting 10 bucks back they weren’t you know aware of some things and of course there was a massive slippage but you know no warnings to that person like hey you know are you aware that you know this is you know what you’re doing is uh got these sort of risks and so on and yeah I think that there’s still this gap for people who are coming on board that around you know all of these issues right that hopefully you guys can play a big part in you know getting those people in and educating them and keeping them

23:17 Teun

yeah hopefully I always I always try to make the comparison like we don’t know anymore what protocol our email client is using like is it ipob is it IMAP we don’t we have no clue anymore it’s just an abstraction but underlying is some technology that is to us ancient almost like that’s the scenario where we need to go like we want our ad to repeat this this metaphor over and over again we want our moms to use web3 without knowing that they’re using blockchains we want them to play with that interface but have all all the warnings taken care of all the the precautions taken care of them that’s the scenario where we where we’re going but yeah you need you need endless years of innovation and optimization before we reach that and there’s there’s good things happening like account of abstractions there uh multi-sigs like there’s there’s so many cool things happening that just still need that additional layer of UX still need that additional layer of optimization before the masses will be able to experience it without without all of the headaches


24:23 Rob

absolutely I think one one area around that idea of you know people sort of I guess still about how early we are as you know people fighting about different protocols you know the tribalism between Solana, ETH, Polkadot, Avalanche or what have you you know OnFinality side we we started out in Polkadot we just support a lot of the teams infrastructure within Polkadot more recently have been expanding into other ecosystems and I noticed that you know Litentry also started within Polkadot and you’re EVM compatible where else do you go from there because your you know what you’re trying to achieve is a massive endeavor that is you know the the problem is everywhere how does your future look in regards to multi-chain

25:16 Teun

yeah so we have we we require specific partners so not only OnFinality but also a SubQuery which is very closely related to OnFinality as a data index or as data provider and and such partners who cover a multi-chain world are extremely crucial to us so we received the verifiable data from such indexers and then we enter that data inside the verifiable credentials so that’s crucial and and capabilities or the multi-chain capabilities of such indexers are are something that we’re looking at we really try to focus on our core expertise which is privatizing all of those sensitive accounts making sure that the user is completely in control and offering them an intuitive interface to issue these credentials so yeah data indexers are a big part there and also start small focus on the on on the on the ecosystems where most of the activity is currently that that is still uh the Ethereum uh ecosystem Polkadot is there’s so much developer activity and I’m very very curious how how that at one point should explode uh in into where the user activities should follow as well so that will be curious that those are the two main ecosystems that we’re focusing on heavily and then we’ll try to build from there

26:48 Rob

awesome how does it look like in the future if say there’s a competitor that is kind of owns uh Solana or something and is there a way in which ultimately you would have partnerships with similar DID providers in that sense that you guys could work together or is this kind of like a zero-sum game that you know one uh DID provider is gonna you know win them all

27:16 Teun

yeah that’s it that’s a very good question and also one I I break my head about often so ideally this this standard verifiable credential it’s defined by the w3c so like the the ultimate internet nerds the ones who who shape the internet have proposed is this this standard and we love that I think everybody loves it ideally we should all be able to read each other’s credential ideally it should be an interoperable standard so I can talk with with our with our colleagues skilled within the polkadot ecosystem that we can talk with discord that we can talk with with any of the of the major players who are adopting this this credential standard that’s an ideal scenario but at the same time you also see strategies that are going towards lock-in of certain ecosystems or our users because every credential is slightly different and there are luckily some initiatives from the industry that try to avoid a Tower of Babel scenario where everybody’s using the same language but doesn’t understand each other um I think I think that will be a challenge for the industry to solve but but there is initiatives underway so ideally we can just all use each other’s credentials and and if you have used the DID provider on Solana and you want to import those credentials into Litentry we should be able to read them and show like hey bang on Solana you’ve been pretty active and there’s something to show um so so well I hope that that that future becomes reality

28:49 Rob

yeah let’s hope so it makes sense I mean obviously you guys have been very successful so far you know for a parachain auction you’re obviously very technically you know complex product can you share about some of the challenges you’ve had to date and how you’ve overcome them

29:12 Teun

yeah some of the challenges just blockchains are not centralized servers they they move slower they are at the start and not as stable like the the complexity is higher uh you’re trying to create a distributed Network so delays are an issue for for just building applications that that are that are very uh user-friendly we sometimes struggle with okay this delay of having block confirmation how does a user appear experience that how do we optimize how do we make a user aware that this is not just your quick application that that runs in the same way as in web 2. so those are some of the challenges anything that we’re building is very new it’s it’s all it’s all a cutting edge tech it’s it’s all never done before so uh at the same time there’s a community that that’s often waiting to see results I think that is a very common challenge that everybody’s facing in the industry that we’re facing as well

30:24 Rob

yeah part of the fun as well right

30:27 Teun

kind of yeah at times


30:31 Rob

and what about like what gets you most excited about I mean there’s so many potential areas for Litentry what for you personally is the most exciting your thing going forward

30:42 Teun

yeah I would I would love to see pseudonymous economies really taking off like anonymity and and just truly having the possibility to be a dog on the internet like you can be a dog on the internet and nobody can know like that would that would just be a world where where there is more equality of opportunity where everybody can just play around and try try stuff without being judged without having certain discrimination like pseudonymous economy is really taking hold and unlocking new opportunities for people who who previously couldn’t uh from a from a philosophic standpoint that would be the most interesting to see happening here


31:28 Rob

yeah super powerful yeah be interesting to see how it all goes

and can you tell us more about how you found OnFinality and the benefits that it provides to Litentry

31:38 Teun

yeah sure so I think our team bumped into OnFinality when they were exploring the RPC endpoints on Polkadot JS and then they figured out like okay there’s some external expertise providers who can really help us optimize this setup optimize our blockchain infrastructure optimize the way we set up nodes and provide the necessary infrastructure to run our parachain yeah I said it before our core expertise is really focusing on on privacy preserving infrastructure and the core expertise of of your team is is uh in terms of providing the the nodes providing the necessary infrastructure to do that to to help others focus on theirs and that that really just saves us a lot of time it helps us in not going into that one-on-one effort in guiding somebody to set up a collateral notes uh you have that complete tutorial almost so to say or a complete scripted easy onboarding and that just helps a lot of people and in the future we’ll also likely open up the whitelist for more people to set up nodes for more people to become a collator so that’s that’s pretty exciting to us and the way that that onfinality just eases helps us to make that process a lot easier yeah

33:12 Rob

well yeah thanks for your support and yeah I look forward to seeing how we can you know help you in the next phases as you go forward


33:20 Rob

And how about for those who aren’t in crypto or they’re curious do you have any advice on how they could get into the industry

33:30 Teun

yeah that’s a that’s a good question I think now like there’s this quote what is it you become the five people you hang out the most with so let’s say that for the next month you’re gonna hang out with Balaji with Ryan Sulcus with just like the the big brains of crypto you figure out who they are or you figure out who are those big brains for a certain niche that you’re interested in and hang out with them just 24 7 like listen to all of their podcasts listen read every tweet uh try to make a map of how they think what their what their assumptions are and and pretty soon you’re just ahead of of a lot of people because you’ve completely immersed um I think a deep like a proper deep dive clean out your schedule and just completely immerse yourself in a certain niche or expertise for a month that’s going to get you a long way and then um yeah really start hustling in the discords I think that’s another one just really jump in everywhere reach out to everybody build build that pseudonymous reputation uh and make a name for yourself once you you know what you’re talking about I think I think that’s what I would advise or I actually am recommending to friends as well who try to break into the space

34:52 Rob

you know really good advice especially you know immersing yourself and like crypto Twitter right that was one of the first things that was told to me as well I was like what’s this Twitter and stuff I wasn’t really but then you get involved and it’s yeah a huge amount of information that you just don’t get anywhere else

well thank thanks for joining us today Teun it’s been a pleasure to learn about Litentry and decentralized ID and the massive opportunities that lie ahead of you if you’d like to learn more about Litentry you can go to their website and if you’re a web 3 builder you want to get stuck in perhaps run some nodes for Litentry you’re at the right place it’s OnFinality is blockchain infrastructure made smarter you can go to our website and check out all sorts of analytics tools and things we have for builders thanks again Teun great to have you on and all the best yeah this was awesome thank you cheers cheers see you

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