Andreas Sigurdsson

December 28, 2021

The first year of ZADA

As we approach the end of 2021, we are getting close to the one year anniversary of ZADA's birth. They story  of ZADA is young, but its heritage stretches back all the way to 2006 when I was part of starting a single-sign-on venture to bring our users up to a bank security level and ensure they didn't need to use passwords to login to their different services once authenticated. It was called NaviBase and was an idea that originally came from a Security export based in Norway and was developed in Java. It was early times for this and we ended up putting all our resources in the proof of concept case, a Student Community instead, which later took over the focus of the company and NaviBase was put in a box and stored away.

Fast forward to 2018 and the idea to bring a solution inspired by the Swedish BankID, a private sector driven digital ID, to Myanmar was born. We started it as an incubation project under Lychee Ventures where we evaluated different approaches. During the fall of 2020 I was introduced to Self Sovereign Identity (SSI) and it became my Matrix. I took the red pill and there was no going back. I spent the fall digging into possible business models, use-cases of SSI and connect with leading experts.

As we saw how the current digital ID systems were insufficient during the first year of COVID-19 in 2020 - how privacy was eroded, personal data leaked, and how companies in general faced challenges to identify people remotely with an increase risk for fraud - we decided to push forward with our idea to ensure everyone has equal opportunities to benefit from services in a safe way without risks of fraud and privacy issues.

And so ZADA is officially born.

With a name inspired by the Myanmar "Zada", a collection of details of your birth focused on time and astronomy related data written on a bamboo piece we felt that - as your receive your bamboo Zada when you are born, you should start your digital life with ZADA.
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We quickly got started on a first proof of concept, working in six weeks cycles and using Basecamp (of course). As the use case of COVIDPASS in Myanmar emerged in June we made the decision to go to production in three months, directly from our proof of concept.

An intense period followed and in mid August 2021 ZADA Network, Apps and APIs went live. With a team on the ground we had a short feedback loop and worked around the clock to adapt and fix any bugs as we learned about how people used the app. SSI gave us extra challenges due to how it works with consent and direct connections, requiring each person to directly connect with the hospital before receiving the COVIDPASS.

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We released ZADA App and the ZADA Network as lite versions and then spent the coming weeks and months to improve and add on functionality that was requested such as remove dependency on email (as people don't use email in Myanmar), add a recovery function but also improve translations, user-guides and live customer service chats.


To enable a smooth COVIDPASS issuance, we also launched a cloud-based system for taking bookings and managing the vaccination registrations, in addition to our issuance App. We worked closely with the hospital in improving the integration and process flows, and by November a service was released for automatic issuance increasing the conversion rate to close to 80% of all vaccinated.

Working in short cycles and sprints we had the luxury of being able to react on new opportunities. Such as the request by immigration authorities to add a QR Code to the credentials for physical scanning, enabling the wallet holder to be offline but still able to present a credential that can be verified. We dedicated two weeks and got it done. To make it even more useful, we made the ZADA App to work as a verifier app too, so you can verify a ZADA Credential easily with the ZADA app itself in person. And suddenly we had an even better system to support businesses that wanted to easily verify a person's vaccination proof.

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As always, the technology is not what makes thing work but the team behind it. On December 24th our great Myanmar team showcased their matching Christmas outfits!

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And we Go forward, aiming for the stars as, we focus on our mission to ensure everyone has equal opportunities to benefit from services in a safe way without risks of fraud and privacy issues, and reaching our vision of becoming the VISA of Digital Identities, a global network for exchanging digital credentials across borders.