Spark appears to have placed a great bet back in 2019 when it launched a software subsidiary focused on the management of decentralised identity and verifiable data.
Questions about identity management are everywhere right now, not least with government working to build what it calls a "digital identity trust framework". The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to increase the urgency around such work.
Almost at launch, Spark's MATTR subsidiary began working with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and the the Companies Office on a design experiment that allowed businesses to use digital credentials to establish and audit mutual trust online.
MATTR has now been tapped by the Ministry of Health to help deliver a crucial part of the COVID puzzle to return New Zealand to some kind of normality, a digital vaccine pass and smartphone app.
The pass will be used domestically and internationally. MATTR will provide the technology that underpins it and also develop and support the ministry’s verifier app for businesses to confirm a person’s vaccine status.
The award came from what the ministry described as a closed competitive tender.
In June, MATTR announced its MATTR VII platform to provide building blocks to address the complex challenges of digital security, privacy and data verification. The company described its mission as "building a web of trust" to restore confidence in digital interactions through an integrated approach to decentralised identity and data ownership.
"Our products are simple, accessible and easy to use, with pre-built extensions that make it easy to plug the platform into existing application stacks," MATTR said.
The MATTR VII platform decoupled a user’s identity from their service providers, MATTR said, delivering significant benefits to users and giving builders and developers tools to create "a whole new universe of decentralised products and applications".
Last month, MATTR announced it was also working with the US National Science Foundation in a collaboration with the University of Washington and biometric identity company iProov to explore how people could be protected against the dissemination of false and manipulated content online.
The partners aimed to produce a flexible proof-of-concept technology to help people verify the source of information and its reliability.
Another partnership, with California-based open login technology provider Auth0, delivers a catalogue of technology integrations to extend functionality. Founded in 2013, Auth0 said its takes an approach to identity that enabled organisations to provide secure access to any application for any user.
"Safeguarding billions of login transactions each month, Auth0 delivers convenience, privacy, and security so customers can focus on innovation," Auth0 explained
“MATTR is pleased to partner with Auth0, and welcomes Auth0’s recognition that MATTR’s approach to decentralised identity and data ownership can provide a powerful way to extend and enhance investment already made in authentication and identity solutions,” said Claire Barber, MATTR CEO and minor shareholder, who was formerly Spark's chief digital officer.
The Ministry of Health has now published the specification for the COVID-19 domestic vaccine pass and the verifier specification to its Github account so businesses can incorporate the process into their existing software or offer the service in different ways.
My Vaccine Pass, which is an official record of a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status, will help people access places that require proof of vaccination under the new COVID-19 protection framework.
A separate pass for use when travelling internationally will also be available soon and both will be stored in a QR code that can be downloaded to a phone or printed out.
The specifications that are being released describe the data in the QR code, the technology that is used to encode it, and how the QR code is expected to be interpreted and processed.
The Ministry of Health is also building a free verifier app to be made available on the App Store and Google Play, for anyone to use to scan and verify a My Vaccine Pass.
The release of the specifications ahead of vaccination passes being required or available, meant business and the public could understand how this technology was going to work, said Michael Dreyer, The ministry's group manager national digital services.
“It was important for the Ministry to work with a New Zealand tech company that understood the need for the public to have a secure digital record of their vaccine status,” said Dreyer.
Businesses should check out the approach being taken and start considering how best to make this a part of how they operate, he said.
Vaccination certificates can be claimed through the MyCovidRecord platform.