Tencent veterans secure $13 million to build decentralized cross-chain identities TechCrunch

There are numerous startups working on decentralized identities for the next generation of the Internet. Four Tencent veterans want their proposal .bitan identity protocol built on the blockchain to become a universal identification system in web3 the way emails and phone numbers became ubiquitous in web2, while giving users control over their own data rather than letting it reside within platforms, which they use.

.bit-powered identities come in the form of the eponymous domain name. Here’s how it works: choose a .bit alias, link it to the addresses of your crypto or NFT wallets that .bit currently supports, and all data and assets from those wallets will now sit under the .bit “data container” and be displayed on your .bit page.

Say you need to get cryptocurrency from someone. Instead of giving them your 35 character wallet address, you can give them something as simple as claire.bit.

The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is perhaps the biggest player in the blockchain naming system space today, with .eth increasingly found in names on Twitter. Although .bit sees ENS as its rival, it doesn’t bill itself as a domain service, but rather as an identity solutions provider.

In addition, Tim Yeo, one of the co-founders of .bit, said that his company provides a “neutral” and “chain-agnostic” solution, while .eth only interacts with Ethereum.

“In real life, your houses and financial assets are linked to your unique identification number. .bit serves as a digital identifier for all your assets in the web3 world,” said the founder.

One year after its founding, .bit registered more than 110,000 accounts with around 38,000 crypto addresses associated with them. The identity protocol already supports Polygon, Tron, Binance Smart Chain and Ethereum; plans to add compatibility with Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Polkadot, Solana and more in the future. In total, the protocol is integrated with nearly 100 wallets and dApps.

Its business model is simple: charge an annual subscription fee for the accounts, including domain names and other identity services. The strategy won the support of investors

as the company is closed $13 million Series A funding round led by CMB International, which is owned by Chinese conglomerate China Merchants Group, HashKey Capital, known for its early investments in Ethereum, QingSong Fund, GSR Ventures, GGV Capital and crypto-focused investment intermediary SNZ.

The startup plans to spend the capital on expanding partnerships, growing its user community around the world and hiring — though it wants to keep the team small and nimble.

The company’s next ambition is to promote the use of .bit for decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), Yeo said. Each member of the DAO receives their own .bit account and can use this piece of identity to vote on the organization’s decisions.

The startup consists of a small team of ten people spread across the US, China and Singapore, led by four co-founders who were colleagues at Tencent – Tim Yoe, Specker Shaw, Jeff Jin and Kyle Wright.

Its users already span about 180 countries, but Yeoh wants the company to reach more users in Africa and South America, where much of the population remains unbanked due to a lack of government documentation.

“A person who doesn’t have an official ID can get a .bit account, bypass the government and start using a range of apps,” suggested the founder. “If an individual makes a contribution to the DAO, that record can be reflected in their .bit profile. No need for certificates anymore.”

Like .eth, .bit is gradually gaining acceptance among crypto supporters on some established internet platforms. On Jike, a social network favored by Chinese tech workers, venture capitalists and web3 enthusiasts, people add the suffix .bit to their names even if they haven’t actually registered an account on the platform.

“They treat .bit as a form of social stamp,” Yeo said.

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