Interview with Dia Banerji, UK Ambassador at WiD

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

I am passionate about the power of innovative technology & its potential in creating a better world. As an individual, I enjoy solving problems with technology solutions. I consider myself to be fortunate to be able to pursue my passion in the work I do.

I am the founder of ID4V. It is an early stage start-up focused on building a platform to enable Self Sovereign Digital Identity for Cross-Border Travel Visa Applications using Blockchain Technology. ID4V aims to address the inefficiency in our travel visa application system which affects millions of people around the world. Very few experiences in life can be compared to the joy of creation. I am thrilled to be on this journey.

I also work as a Consultant to the Blockpass identity Lab at Edinburgh Napier University where I advise on commercialization of emerging technology. I help identify industry applications for Blockchain & Privacy Preserving Machine Learning research. Every day I spend at the lab I learn something new. I am surrounded by brilliance and get to work with innovative cutting-edge research. It is truly inspiring.

This is a very exciting time to be in Identity. We are creating a gateway to access the digital economy. What we build today & how we build it, will shape our future. My work in Identity allows me to be part of this incredible evolution.

Roosevelt once said “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” To me, working in Identity as an Entrepreneur and a Professional is work worth doing and I love it!


How did you get to where you are today?

The short answer would be ‘CURIOSITY’!

Prior to embarking a career in the technology sector, I spent over fifteen years in the financial services industry and worked for some of the top global banks in the world. Around 2016, within my fraternity there was a lot of noise about Bitcoin. Most of my peers and friends who were in Financial Services were naysayers and opposed Bitcoin with the utmost passion. Wall street greats like Warren Buffet famously called Bitcoin ‘Rat Poison Squared’! This got me curious. I wanted to learn more about Bitcoin to be able to figure out where I stood on the debate. This pursuit led me to studying Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies. I was amazed with the potential of this technology in solving real world problems. I wanted to be part of it. So, I pivoted my career to outlining use cases for Blockchain especially within Financial Services sector. And in that journey, I came to narrow my focus on Digital Identity and got to where I am today.


What is the most important lesson you have learned along the way?

The most important lesson that I learned was not to be intimidated by the things I did not know and appreciate the value of stepping outside my comfort zone. I was a financial service professional before I entered the world of Technology and Digital Identity. I have an MBA and not a computer science degree. There will always be somethings that we do not know and that is absolutely fine! Especially when one is working within the Identity Industry which is constantly changing and new standards are being incubated as we speak. Knowledge has a way of demystifying complex concepts. And once you understand something in depth you are no longer intimidated by it. The key thing is to never stop learning. And one of the most enjoyable aspects of my work is that I get to learn something new all the time. This to me this is both inspiring and empowering.


What should leaders in identity start, stop and continue – and why?

The concept of identity has been broadly accepted as a fundamental human right. A legal identity enables individuals to participate in society and have access to rights and services. It is a prerequisite to financial & social inclusion.

Identity management is a global problem. The current system does not scale and is in much need for disruption. For, those of us in the developed world we are plagued with inefficiencies of legacy systems, data privacy breaches & leaks leading to trust issues with central authorities. For the citizens of the developing nations many are denied access to financial & social services for lack of verifiable identity. According to World Bank, it is estimated that approximately one billion people across the world do not have access to an officially recognizable identity!

As the world transitions to a digital economy we need to have a more secure, scalable, interoperable and citizen focused digital identity management solutions to ensure inclusion.

So, my advice to the CEO’s in the identity space would be the following:

START: Collaborating with one another and build solutions and platforms which are interoperable. Have diverse teams within the organisation so that the solutions reflect the wider needs of society. Both are imperative for mass adoption!

STOP: Building centralized identity management solutions! Be citizen focused and build applications on the principles of self-sovereign digital identity. Allow individuals to own, control and manage the distribution of their personal identity. This is essential to be able to build scalable and secure systems with no central point of failure and reduce risk of data theft.

CONTINUE: Identifying new uses cases for Identity management solutions and apply innovative technologies to enhance efficiency and security of applications. Digital Identity is a relatively new industry and is constantly changing. We need to continue to fund new research and explore new use cases. This is crucial, for the creation of robust digital identity management platforms for the future.


In one sentence, why does diversity matter to you?

I have always looked to nature to find order and to me diversity is the purest form of natural existence and the only way to live and thrive in this world.


What book/film/piece of art would you recommend to your fellow members? Why?

I would recommend the film, The Matrix. It is a beautiful film and the script is almost Shakespearean. If one sees beyond the action-packed computer graphics there is a deep spiritual message and a tale about the constant strife between ignorance and enlightenment faced by mankind. Like most great works of art, it leaves you questioning. Definitely worth a watch!


What advice would you give to the teenage ‘you’?

I would advise my teenage self to be ‘fearless’ and ‘take chances’. In order to walk the path that no one has ever walked before requires one to be brave and follow one’s gut. Greatness is seldom achieved by being careful. So, go ‘ALL IN’ and follow your passion and don’t seek external validation. Believe in yourself!


Where can we find you on social media / the Web?

You can find me on LinkedIn.

 August 05, 2020