Debbie Reynolds “The Data Diva” talks to Bianca Lopes, Identity & Access Advocate for Humanity, Co-Founder, Talle. We discuss her start in political science and diplomacy, business and banking, identity fueling the shift from corporate to individual rights, fear leads to the desire for both more openness and more security, the problems in the use of identity systems, privacy, and protection for organizations, the need for healthy customer relationships to create trust, the value exchange between business and individuals, the concern for the individual’s benefit to be a core value, biometrics and Data Privacy, high risk of data with low business value, and her hope for Data Privacy in the future.
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Debbie Reynolds, Bianca Lopes
Debbie Reynolds 00:00
Personal views and opinions expressed by our podcast guests are their own and are not legal advice or official statements by their organizations.
Hello, my name is Debbie Reynolds. They call me "The Data Diva". This is "The Data Diva" Talks Privacy podcast, where we discuss Data Privacy issues with industry leaders around the world with information that businesses need to know now. I have a very special guest on the show all the way from Copenhagen. Bianca Lopes, is a FinTech innovator of mathematicians, someone who's interested in identity. She is the co-founder of Talle, and she does a ton of different things. So you have a show, "Be in the Know". You and I had the pleasure of meeting, and we collaborated on a panel together for the open Banking World Congress in Spain. So that was fun for us to do together with something on consent, banking and finance. And you're such an effervescent personality, and you're so knowledgeable in all these different spheres. So I would love for you to tell people about yourself, and your journey, which I think is fascinating because you touch on all these different fun areas that I like to talk about as well as technology.
Debbie, thanks for inviting me here. Thanks, everybody who's out there listening to this wonderful Diva, but just like damned spark of a human in person. So I was excited because I remember writing the "Did You Know?" posts that I posted of you on my LinkedIn when I was kind of like creeping on you, and the things you talk about, well, I guess we'll start with where I was born. And where I spend most of my time, I grew up actually in Brazil, in Rio. And I think that gives you a little bit of perspective in life, just sort of inequality. So sort of had a chip on my shoulders of wanting to change the world, I thought I was going to be a diplomat, moved all the way to Canada, and ended up studying economics and political science there. And quite quickly realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I was a swimmer at the time and, you know, spending a lot of time in the pool, and let's just say I had a really nice coach person, who said at the time I couldn't really be an Olympian, you might want to do something else. So I found entrepreneurship through sort of necessity of having to pay for international tuition. And I've had most businesses that got me to identity, I started with a painting and drywalling business. I've done a B Corp certification company, we were recycling up fabric and building a sustainable business model before this was cool. I worked in WWF. So I always had a side of me that cared about the world and, why we do business, why we create value. Funny enough, I've been a banker. So I've worked for RBC, I worked in risk, I worked in futures on everything, commercial banking. And I started my identity career kind of backwards, didn't really know what I was getting into, I started in the access control space. So for people out there, I was learning how stockrooms operated on working with some of the largest data centers in North America. And that time, I was working with things like biometrics, which, about a decade and a half ago, were kind of weird and are kind of still a bit Minority Report. And it got me really interested in what was behind it. And not only from a privacy perspective, how the technology worked, who was behind it, and who would have access to it? And you know, my job there was growing the company and turning the company to sell biometrics to banks because that's all I knew, I knew the banking industry. So where do you start as an entrepreneur growing a company, you go to the people you know, and you say, hey, what do you think about this thing? And quite quickly, I understood the nuances of authentication identification. And I think some of the things we laughed about last time we were together were around the fact that, you know, the identity industry is a bit to blame for this. We make things super complicated. And yeah, a lot of what my journey brought me here today, I'm an investor, I'm still a builder, I back people, they're building things. I've worked with the Gates Foundation and consulted for some of the largest identity projects around the world because I'm curious, and I've been trying to get to the bottom of how these biometric systems work. What happens when you know Russia and visa were working to launch the DBS, which is a digital biometric system. What happened when you know the Aadhaar had a biometric system that was constitutional will happen to privacy then? So I've always just been in these interesting projects out of just strong curiosity to figure it out? How can technology really change the world and what can I really do? And yeah, that's a little bit about me a little bit, a lot about me. I hope that's valuable context.
Yeah, that's great context, actually, I think when we talk about identity, and I just want to talk about this, so I spoke at the identity conference about four years ago. And you know, this was before COVID and everything, and they were very gracious to invite me as a privacy person into their space. So I work a lot with all the privacy people, we need to talk to each other and understand that the hack that we're building is actually all connected. But hey, yeah, absolutely is. But I mean, the thing that I said there, it's like identity in the future is gonna be like the center of everything. So we're seeing the shift away from kind of what corporations want to the rise of individual rights, and all that centers around in my view, identity. And then for you being in kind of a finance or financial or banking space, understanding that intersection, it sort of puts you in the middle of everything, because I feel like a lot of these innovations, they start they come to the public, from banking, I think banking kind of leads the way what are your thoughts about that?
Bianca Lopes 06:25
Well, let's unpack there about banking leading the way to intervention to the end consumer I see what you mean in terms of value, I think that's been like dramatically changing in the sense of I think a lot of the innovations, whether good or bad came to consumers through phones as a means, as a channel, but a lot of obviously are connected beloved Internet and web to what I get excited about. When I think about identity in this space, and in this context, it is in the center of everything, not because it's just the new hottest trend, it's just foundational to building systems. And I think that's where a lot of us went wrong. And, you know, it's kind of hard to, and that doesn't mean anonymity. And that doesn't also mean pseudonymity or knowing everything. I think this notion of privacy and boundaries is a really interesting one when we start talking about plugging everything, when you connect everything, and everything now starts to have two way communication and exchange of value, and exchange of data. You no longer have a one way situation, which is what web three would allow some of these things to do. The notion of knowing who you're dealing with, and things that you have, and temporary custody, and some of these other nuances of consent, become very important. Foundations for the infrastructure. So I do believe that maybe, you know, I've been beating the drum for maybe 10 years, just actually 13 years around identity. And maybe now it's the center. But I think it will be for a while, like a lot of these systems, we build peripheries because it's almost like we didn't expect these things to grow, and to grow exponentially from a data perspective. So we build a lot of security around it. And now, when you're like breaking things apart and creating models of exchange, you're going to have to build new ways of conserving boundaries, new ways of identifying things and people and stuff and machines. And, yeah, so it's cool. It's cool to see the change. Not fast enough.
Debbie Reynolds 08:25
You know, no, definitely, definitely not. One thing I'd love are your thoughts about and this is related to open banking. So I think we're having two things that are happening simultaneously, we have people who may be afraid to share, right, so they want to find ways to preserve their own data and their information. But then we also have these ecosystems with open banking where there are many different types of ways that people consume finance or financial products, and having banks around the world trying to help facilitate that to kind of create less friction. So in one way, we're saying we want these more closed, right, in a way but then also open, so how can we have it both ways?
Bianca Lopes 09:08
That's where identity comes in. We can have it both ways by defining identity we normally think of like in a KYC space, and we normally think of in a static thing or like an all or nothing, you have all my information, and you know me, identity is actually really just like the attribute that you're can use in a contextual time. And just like all of us, we have many identities and many ways in which we interact with them. So that's how you can have it all you can have a world where you know, if we really look at identity and the meta versus example as a primitive or we look at it and the layer one protocols which is like calm a super advocate of and I think a lot of what's happening in the market, you can point back to identity being not the savior at all, but certainly a foundation to prevent some concentrations in the market that could have led us into different places. And I think you see that a lot. And you know, so found NFTs and web five talking about security, privacy and identity. I think some people see the writing on the wall of this necessity. Where I think it's interesting from an open banking and open data perspective, is the consumer will care when they realize that when they can realize the true value of the connectivity of our lives, like when people talk about, you know, knowing that I care about sustainability, and I also care about CVC creates a Venn diagram that you can sell to me, right, it's been talked about for years, and the iduopoly when now this becomes something I can participate in. And maybe through a plat or maybe through a value exchange of true layer, or maybe through my bank. That is, that is the true value out of the people, I will allow it to be the discretionary manager of my data, which I think it's kind of like an interesting concept of custody, which I think is where the future of open data really leads us is like, you know, where's the cheapest cost to settle on this transaction? That's why I want to use this, I want to see the benefit in the hands of consumers. And you know, wealth more equally distributed. And I think that's what gets me super excited.
Debbie Reynolds 11:27
What do you think about getting people into identity systems? So we know for those who are very connected like us and technology, we don't have problems getting into identity systems. But I think a lot of these innovations can't reach everyone because we're having trouble getting people in identity. So tell me a little bit about that problem, a problem of access problem of having people in systems where they can actually take advantage of all these innovations.
Bianca Lopes 12:06
So the problem is people not having access, if people just information being vulnerable, which one do you want to tackle first?
Debbie Reynolds 12:13
Well, let's talk about just getting people into systems and then talk about the vulnerability after.
Bianca Lopes 12:23
Cool. So getting people into systems while we suck, we suck because the incentive structures actually don't suck, they're quite correct. When you look at the people making money and identity is in the hands of a few. And so it's even the way we make money on KYC, and the way we make money on data duplication, it's kind of just archaic, and there's lots that I think can change, but some of the SSI principles that technically come to bear. We've excluded about 2 billion people still. We are undermined, and you know, you look at Aadhaar as an example. You know, there's entire birthing naming agencies that have put entire generations to be birthed on the same day on the same time and have ignored the fact that people are actually born at different times, because the infrastructure is just not there to support it. And there's just no lack of public commitment to people, the importance of perhaps what that credential effectively carries. What gets interesting and exciting on the technology side, not only from a biometric perspective or from other technologies, is this ability to enable people to prove something fundamentally, they can prove, if they were standing in front of your face is that they are here and they do exist and that they are Bianca, or whatever, whomever they claim they are, and they can start adding attributes. So you know, the barrier of inclusion goes down from a technological perspective, because it enables something for us humans to do, that we can do if we were all living in a small village, which I think is a fundamental right, to own who you are. And I think some of these technologies start to scratch the surface of what human rights, sort of adherence, because look like in a technological space.
Debbie Reynolds 14:19
Excellent, excellent. I would love your thoughts on privacy and how privacy sort of sneaks in. So I think, traditionally, when people were building these digital systems, they are very focused on cybersecurity. So this protects let's get all this information and put it behind some wall and protect it that way, right? But then what we see is globally there are more individuals are gaining more rights. So organizations are really needing to rethink that whole let's just build a wall around it. But you still have obligations that you're continuing to have as a result of all these new laws and regulations around privacy. So tell me how privacy kind of snuck in here. And what are your thoughts here?
Bianca Lopes 15:11
I think snuck in here not fast enough and not loud enough, and I think it's being seen as a compliance exercise versus an exercise of boundaries and an exercise of value creation. Because I think that's the future of like any, that's actually the foundation of any healthy relationship. If you kind of think about it, when you think about it from a bank or a digital service provider, you often forget, you know, how much am I giving for how much am I getting kind of rule that this allows you to do? Privacy allows you to say, to talk about those boundaries in and you know, sometimes it's really great to have regulation because it forces as you said, corporations to understand the liability that they have the compliance exercise they need to do, what I think it's often not there yet is seen as an opportunity of change and an opportunity to engage that relationship and regain more trust. So I think privacy sneaks in, not fast enough and loud enough. But it sneaks in, like in an interesting way that the ones who have seen the opportunity in the light understand that, hey, this is a chance for me to build better systems for me to look at partners, for me to look at transparency in my UX, and conversation. And for me to also understand where the boundaries of my ethical business, you know, value creation really resides.
Debbie Reynolds 16:28
Yeah, I agree with that. I love that you pose it as a healthy relationship. I think that's a great analogy. Because what I see the future companies struggling with, if you can't build a relationship with someone, you're going to have less data and less accurate data. Also you've written something on your LinkedIn about privacy and trust, and about having, for example, providing a secret to someone that you expect them to keep your confidence, right. That's when and when they betray that that is a betrayal of trust. And so, how much do you want to share with these folks? So I think it goes back to relationship, what are your thoughts?
Bianca Lopes 17:14
I think it totally goes back to relationships. I think it's back to human principal fundamentals. We’ve heard banks or some large institutions talk about trust, we have also seen it erode and their share value, or their ability to attract talent, which then eventually would erode and their share value or their market share growth. Sure, thanks. Right now, we'll make some money because of interest spreads. But neither here nor there. I think it's a long-term commitment to understanding where you stand and what you're really good at, like, why am I here as an organization? I think sometimes consultants or freelancers are faced with that question on a daily grind. You know, what value do you bring, sometimes organizations, when they're well established, tend to forget. And I think that that's what the beam bringing it back to trust in this relationship of a secret or betrayal. It's, you know, and I think you're starting to see a lot of technology changes to saying transparency, accountability, the blockchain principles around that. So when that happens, and people start to realize, wait a minute, part of my data sets are being sold by some of these financial institutions for years, even and I didn't get a penny, and I have to pay to keep my stuff like, wait a minute, right? It's just we haven't made it that obvious, not clear, to people to question, and yeah, we're all super busy. We're zombied out. I don't know which one of the two. But I think the time for that accountability and conversation, I hope is coming. And I think friends that are listening to the crazy people on this podcast.
Debbie Reynolds 18:55
Absolutely, absolutely. I think that there's an asymmetrical relationship right now between what's the value that people give versus the value that they get. So I think having those levels of transparency may help right the ship to some extent, at least make it less asymmetrical, so that people can really see the true value. And you know, I tell companies, if individuals trust you, they'll give you better data, right? They'll give you more data because they trust you with it. So I think it's only a benefit to those organizations. What's happening in the world right now, that is concerning you the most around either identity or privacy, personally or professionally.
Bianca Lopes 19:41
What's happening in the world in privacy and identity? What's not happening? We're still not agreeing. We're still not getting to a conversation about our standards interoperating. You look at eIDAS in Europe, and you know what's happened with the Belgium announcement and conversation about having monopolies and a business that needs much change. And I talk to you about how do we build a foundation in the primitives for identity? For all these new things we want to build, we have an opportunity to rebuild the metaverse or values of storage like NFTs, and we're here talking about monopolies and not public and private partnerships and non-academic discovery, and not enough r&d. So that concerns the hell out of me because I still see a room full of egos. And not a willingness to, you know, just maybe not be the smartest person in the room for once and build another acronym, because we're a small industry, identity, privacy, even the word massive. And, you know, some of the fines or some of the deals and software in both of our industries are ginormous and considerable. Yeah, that scares me. So I guess it's our lack of playing nice in the sandbox together as human beings. That scares the crap out of me that we're not using it for things like the horrendous things that are happening in the world. So I often say to people, you know, I've been obsessing over funding around sustainability and identity, and I'm doing lots of interesting things around understanding how does this technology work for us to get anywhere in our goals? Like, how do we get to 2030 goals as an example, using things like, where is privacy used to hide information in today's binary construct? Where is it used for good? And how do we accelerate those things? So that concerns me, those unconnected conversations concern me. Because I don't know, I still see a world suffering and on fire.
Debbie Reynolds 21:53
Yeah. So somehow, in some way, I feel like we need to, in order to right the ship, we have to bring back the idea that whatever we do a day in our technology has to, at its core, benefit the individual. So right now, we see things and benefit corporations, they benefit, like, say, the egos in the room, but they don't really benefit individuals. So I'm looking forward to a time where that is not like a nice to have, you know, it's not like, oh, well, you know, we do these cute. Yeah, that's cute, right?
Bianca Lopes 22:32
That's nice. Aw, it's nice. And I'm like, then you do what?
Debbie Reynolds 22:36
Right, right? Yeah, it’s a it's an economic imperative. Right now, we just have kind of this underbelly, you know, multibillion-dollar industry, especially in data brokering where it doesn't really benefit individual people all know what they're doing. So bringing in finding ways to bring transparency to that and make it sort of not valuable to be able to do that in some way. So that's why I think it's one of our biggest challenges. What are your thoughts?
Bianca Lopes 23:08
I say, where do I find and start helping for that to be transparent? And like how to make people care, right? How do we make the people outside of listening to this wonderful community in your Data Diva podcast care? Like, I think it has to hit home that this is a value. You know, if you just go back to the basics, everybody can understand time, to a certain extent, and everybody can understand the notion of time. And the notion of their contribution, oh, wait a minute, I do spend three hours on TicToc, or Facebook or Instagram or Google, or whatever. I do create value in some ways in some business models. I don't help the planet, and I don't do this. Like, can you create insight, and that's where I get really excited? It's like, can you create incentive structures that use human feelings and emotions for doing good for grading something that fosters, I don't know, our culture, sports, intelligence, kindness, the environment caring. So I get very excited about trying to fix that to be optimistic on that side. And I think you're totally right. We need to do it.
Debbie Reynolds 24:20
Yeah, one thing I ended up working on, in addition, is biometrics. And I don't know about you, I get frightened a lot of times when I see some of the things people are trying to do in biometrics, and that's one reason why I like to play in that space because I feel like I can't just complain and be upset about it. You have to do something. So you want to be in the room when people are having these wacky conversations. Where do you think what do you think we're going with biometrics? Especially, you know, as I see people in finance, they're kind of leading in this space in terms of how people interact with biometrics. A lot of it ends up, in my view, starting in finance.
Bianca Lopes 25:13
Yeah, so the question is where do I see this going for biometric space, people or the finance industry in general?
Debbie Reynolds 25:20
Well, I think the finance industry in general, but then also from a people perspective.
Bianca Lopes 25:28
I think people are used to it. I think people are, you know, they've been trained. That's why Apple does really well since they bought Acuity, which is like the fingerprint reader, the first biometric that went into the phone. And when you look at what the finance industry is trying to do, they're still thinking of biometrics, for the most part around, as a KYC tool. So as an attribute. So as an identification, very few, but as an authentication mechanism, more than anything else, which I think it still shows how inventive they are in some of the applications like when you look at some countries, honestly, like Brazil that have been playing with biometrics since I don't know 2003. Actually, in the late 90s. Some of the banks, like Italian had invested heavily in ATMs. And that's why the public got so comfortable so fast. I expect us to see a conversation, and I hope we have a conversation about privacy. Again, this feels like about 10 years ago, with some of the new, you're starting to see phone rings, again, with younger entrepreneurs into the market, you're starting to see some of the facial recognition companies going into like credentials for travel credentials for health, which concern me on a few levels of one of them we can talk about very simple is like data storage, right? There's massive amounts of centralized databases of biometrics everywhere around the world. So as an investor, I'm constantly looking at companies that are doing something to change this like an automated as an example, like half of these are vulnerabilities that are great to have the technology has incredible potential, is often applied very simplistically, not to the full foundational value of identity or an attribute. It seldom has cryptographic capacities or components, like zero-knowledge proofs that are the best, because unfortunately, this business is still very polluted with a lot of lenders and a lot of noise. So you see a lot of banks sometimes and financial institutions implementing things and creating, actually, you know, they want to store things in their own cloud. So they create actually liabilities for themselves, without really thinking all the way through, even though, yeah, the consumer is used to it. Yeah, it is a better onboarding experience, perhaps it's easier. And it's definitely more secure than a traditional password. And we all are well aware of that already.
Debbie Reynolds 27:54
Yeah, I think that that's true. So I think when people try to implement these new toys, sometimes they don't think about the added risk that they're bringing into their organization. So they have to be more, get wiser about what they're doing. You know, like, companies that want to implement biometrics in applications, they're definitely creating more risk for themselves, especially around the retention of that data and also the capture and retention, that's kind of an issue. But I think people forget, once they do the capture, you know, they want to keep everything forever, which creates a huge risk. So I tell companies where you have data that has like a low business value and has a high Data Privacy and cyber risk. So being able to sort of understand what that cut-off is, and it isn't as easy as saying, oh, delete this every seven years or whatever, once someone's proven their identity, you have to really think as an organization, how long do we need to keep this information? So I think that's a huge area of risk that I think almost any company has. And I think that things need to change in terms of the way companies think about that risk because it's huge. What are your thoughts?
Bianca Lopes 29:18
I think you're totally right. What I don't like to go into is just that yes, because it's more risk and don't use it at all, because we then often don't compare to the existing risk we have with ancient systems or passwords or some of these other things. It's actually taking the step in the right direction of foundational transformation and change but understand the foundations of the technology. And understand, as you said, the long-term consequences of your architecture decisions or your vendor supplier relationships, which will lead into okay, do I have dependency? Do I have duplications and like how many points of vulnerability and I think invest in that knowledge and that understanding and don't think you can do it yourself? Because a lot of these, If you're going to go look at biometrics, it's a bit arrogant. But some of these banks say I'm going to build the best voice system in the world, some of these things are entire businesses and entire massive amounts of data and dedication and algorithm and mathematical excellence and cryptographic excellence. So even then understanding, what are your then points of failure as an organization, do you need to really, you can leverage services like, that's why web three and some of these things that are more decentralized or understand the value of co-creating almost the magic formula to get to the value for the client, instead of how, and I know that that requires, massive regulatory conversations and changes that we need to do as an industry collectively. But I hope to see a lot of that.
Debbie Reynolds 30:54
Yeah, so if it were the world, according to Bianca, and we did everything that you said, what would be your wish for privacy or identity or open finance anywhere around the world?
Bianca Lopes 31:04
My wish is for human freedom and equality. And for us to realize that a lot of us got trapped in some perception and some construct that we were told was the right way to go. Whether that is as philosophical as it sounds is as basic as you know, why does KYC have to continue to be the way it is? Why have privacy laws, some of them not evolved in 20 years? So I think what I wish for this is for us to accept what is, take account of that in a very open sort of unlearning conversation, and build better from there. The world's definitely not somewhere to tell the rules.
Debbie Reynolds 32:19
Yes, yes, yes. Well, we have to unlearn some bad habits. And we have to relearn new things to be able to move forward in the world in a way that benefits organizations but also doesn't harm individuals.
Bianca Lopes 32:32
maybe in a way that benefits humanity and the planet, and then we can figure out what kind of organizations we need to have to keep everybody well, I just, yeah, I sound utopian. But you know, that's what one is born to do.
Debbie Reynolds 32:49
That's right. Exactly. Have to strive for something. So that's great. That's great. Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast. You've been, you know, you're such a shining star and a great advocate for humans and technology. That's why we get along so well. And yeah, thank you for being on the show. This is fantastic.
Bianca Lopes 33:12
Thank you for having me. Again, you're a light. And just keep doing what you're doing. We need to like scream and shout or actually maybe not screaming. How does dancing tell people? Hey, can we over here we bloom over here, this change over here. So keep doing what you're doing. Thanks for talking to me.
Debbie Reynolds 33:30
Thank you. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Bianca Lopes 33:34