Pass it forward

Zamna — which calls a blockchain to securely share and verify data between airlines and tour authorities to check passenger identities — has raised a$ 5m seed fund round led by VC houses LocalGlobe and Oxford Capital, alongside Seedcamp, the London Co-Investment Fund( LCIF ), Telefonica, and a number of angel investors.

Participation has also come from existing investor IAG( International Airlines Group ), which is now its firstly business patient. The corporation is also changed its name from VChain Technology to Zamna.

When VChain-now-Zamna first seemed, I must admit I was baffled. Using blockchain to verify passenger data is just like a hammer to crack a nut. But it turns out to have some surprisingly helpful applications.

The idea is to use it to verify and connect the passenger data sets which are currently silo-ed between airlines, governments and security agencies. By doing this, says Zamna, you can reduce the need for manual or other checks by up to 90 percent. If that’s the suit, then it’s quite a leap in efficiency.

In theory, as more fare identities are authenticated digitally over epoch and shared securely between parties, squandering a blockchain in the middle to maintain data security and passenger privacy, the airport security process could become practically seamless and allow fares to breeze through airfields without needing physical documentation or reiterated ID checks. Tones good to me.

Zamna says its proprietary Advance Passenger Information( API) validation scaffold for biographic and biometric data, is already being deployed by some airlines and immigration authorities. It recently started working with Emirates Airline and the UAE’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners( GDRFA) to deliver check-in and transit countries checks.

Here’s how it operates: Zamna’s platform is built on algorithms that check the accuracy of Advanced Passenger Information or biometric data, without having to share any of that data with third parties, because it appends an anonymous sign to the previously substantiated data. Airline, airports and governments can then access that secure, invariable and distributed network of supported signs without having actually needing to’ determine’ the data an busines, or contesting airline, holds. Zamna’s technology can then be used by any of these parties to validate passengers’ biographic and biometric data, exercising cryptography to check you are who you say you are.

So, what was wrong with the previous security measures in airports for airlines and border control that Zamna might be fixing?

Speaking to TechCrunch, Irra Ariella Khi, co-founder and CEO of Zamna, says: “There is a preconception that when you arrive at the airport somehow- as if by wizard- the airline knows who you are, the security business know who you are, and the governments of departure and end both know that you are flying between their countries and have established that it is both legitimate and secure for you to do so. You may even assume that the respective security authorities have exchanged some intellect about you as air passengers, to be recognised that both you and your peer fares are safe to timber the same airplane .”

“However, ” she says,” the reality is far from this. It is not possible to easy and safe method for airlines and government agencies to share or cross-reference your data- which are still siloed( for valid field of data protection grounds ). They must, therefore, echo manual one-off data checks each time you advance. Even if you have required your identity data and checked in advance, and if you circulate from the same airport on the same airline many times over, you will find that you are still subject to the same one-off passenger processing( which you have probably previously knowledge many times before ). Importantly, there is an’ identity proof event’, whereby the airline must check both the document of name which you carry, as well as establish that it belongs to your physical identity.”

There are three main trends in this gap. Governments are demanding more accurate passenger data from airlines( for both divergence and destination)- and increasing the regulatory fines imposed for incorrect data provided to them by the airlines. Secondly, Airlines too have to manage the repatriation of passengers and luggage if they are refused entry by a government due to incorrect data, which is costly. And thirdly, ETA( electronic transit licenses, such as eVisas) are on the rise, and governments and airlines will need to satisfy themselves that a passenger’s data pairs precisely that of their relevant ETA in order to establish that they have correct status to travel. This is the case with ESTAs for all US-bound travelers. Many other countries have same requirements. Critically for UK travelers- this will likewise be the case for all passengers traveling into Europe under the incoming ETIAS regulations.

The upshot is that airlines are imposing increased record and name checks at international airports- irrespective of whether the passenger has been a regular flier, and irrespective of whether they have checked-in in advance.

Zamna’s data proof pulpit pulls together multiple stakeholders( airlines, authorities, security agencies) with a practice to authorize and revalidate passenger identity and data( both biographic and biometric ), and to securely establish data owned- before fares arrive at the airport.

It doesn’t require any new infrastructure at the airport, and none of these entities have to share data, because the’ sharing without sharing’ is performed by Zamna’s blockchain stage in the middle of all the data sources.

Remus Brett, Partner at LocalGlobe, says: “With passenger amounts is planning to doubled in the next 20 years, new technology-driven answers are the only way airlines, airports and governments will be able to cope. We’re delighted to be working with the Zamna team and believe they can play a key role in addressing these challenges.” Dupsy Abiola, Global Head of Innovation at International Airline Group, adds:” Zamna is working with IAG on a digital alteration project involving British Airways and the other IAG carriers. It’s very exciting .”

Zamna is a tactical partner to the International Air Transport Association( IATA) and an active is part of IATA’s “One ID” working group.

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