David Lucatch has reimagined a brave new safe world for internet users. As the CEO, President, and Chair of “Liquid Avatar Technologies” he has spent over 35 years as an entrepreneur developing technologies and taking them to market. The mission of “Liquid Avatar Technologies” is to empower individuals through self-sovereign identity to manage, control and profit from the use of their identity and related personal data.
When it comes to the future of the Metaverse, David and his company believe we are years away for any widespread adoption, but the technology is in development, which leaves room for innovative companies to set the standards. David is undoubtably a great resource to speak to technology and infrastructure moving the Metaverse forward.
I had a very enlightening conversation with him regarding Liquid Avatar and everything they’re doing with digital identity and the Metaverse. He is an exceptional man that is doing exceptional things for the Internet …
Tell me about Liquid Avatar. Tell me everything from the beginning.
Liquid Avatar Technologies is a company that focuses on digital identity at its core. Technically, we empower users — individuals or entities — to manage and control their digital identity. We believe that the ownership of identity is a basic human right and that everyone should be able to own, manage, and control their own identity and personal data. That is our philosophy, so we built world class technology around it that supports jurisdictions, regulators, and commercial operators that are focused on creating these digital identities that you can take in both the real world (offline) and the online world to prove who you are without ever divulging any personal information.
How did you come up with the name “Liquid Avatar?”
It was really all about the ability to have something that couldn’t shape itself and represent the individual. The name I came up with originally was Liquid Avatar and I felt it fit the mold very well. When you think about it, identity isn’t just where we go but it’s the things that we do. We are the sum of our parts. So, I might be a father to my daughter, a husband to my wife, I might be a daughter or a son, I might be a gamer, a businessperson, a comic book collector. We are the sum of our parts and must have that fluidity in our identity.
What originally inspired you to do this?
I’ve been in the technology business for almost 40 years, in technology since the mid-1980s and the internet since the mid-1990s and in 2015–2016, I decided to leave my other companies and focus on something I wanted to do. When I was looking at the blockchain industry and delving into it, I didn’t want to get into cryptocurrency. I wanted to find something uniquely different. As Homer Simpson looks for donuts, we look for holes. We thought identity supported by blockchain technology was a huge opportunity. The pandemic has accelerated the opportunity for digital identity to be present in the marketplace. As COVID-19 forced people to do more online, things like online education require a user prove who they are if they want to take a course or exam. There are a lot of instances where digital identity has been accelerated by the issues of the last couple of years.
You sound very passionate about what you do. Have you ever had an experience where your digital identity was messed with?
Not my digital identity, but when I visited Los Angeles last year, it seemed my corporate credit card was compromised. A month later, while I was sitting at my desk, my team called and said, “Did you buy farming equipment? Someone has stolen your credit card number and created a new credit card with your information.” It’s remarkable how the lack of control in the marketplace makes identity theft in the financial services and credit card industry and the related banking industry a $30 billion issue yearly, $9 billion in North America alone. Digital identity could help solve that issue because if I have to prove who I am to use a credit card online, then people who sell my information are never going to be able to use it. At some point in time, most people are affected by some sort of identity compromise.
What you do is fascinating. How would someone technologically challenged, like me, learn to understand this and take part in what you do?
One of the recent examples I used is that no one wanted to shop online at first. If shopping online was a pill, it was a hard thing to swallow. Free shipping made that peanut butter that made the “pill” easier to swallow. I like to use that example, because if you have a pet, you know how difficult it is to give a pet a pill. Our job is to find the opportunity, create the technology or “pill” and then to create and support it with peanut butter, so that people will want to use the service. This year I will be 60, but my contemporaries are our ideal audience. Our ideal audience is Generation Z and Millennials. We decided to make things like avatars and the Metaverse to be the peanut butter of social and digital identity.
Let’s just pretend that I’m your dog and you need to give me a pill. What would I do? Where would I start?
We look at various opportunities. What’s the low hanging fruit for digital identity? The Metaverse. If I’ve proven that I am me, I can enter this Metaverse because it will assure everyone in that metaverse that I am a real person. No one is a bad actor. Let’s say you’re 18 or 21 years old and walk into a convenience store, and you want to buy a bottle of liquor. You’re required to show your driver’s license or some other form of identification that gives the clerk behind the counter the ability to ascertain your age. What if they read it wrong, what if it’s a false ID, what if it’s an inspector or auditor and they are testing the clerk or business and they fail because of a simple human error? There are all kinds of issues that surround a false transaction. It could be a health and safety issue. It could be a security or privacy issue. What if a bad actor steals your information? We have technology that will allow a clerk to scan a generated QR code on your phone. From that QR code a transaction will occur and tell the clerk that you are at or above an age threshold to purchase a particular product. It won’t tell them who you are, it won’t tell your age, it never reveals any of your personally identifiable information, it will just tell them that you qualify. All of that will be supported by blockchain based technology.
Let me give you an example. You walk into Best Buy today, you go to the counter and say, “I am sorry about this, I want to buy this 70-inch television, but I forgot my wallet. I do know my name, address, credit card number, expiry date and three-digit security code on the back.” You get ready to walk out of the store with this television. The clerk says, “No, no, no we can’t do that. We need to see the card. We need to see your ID.” When you go online you just type in a credit card number and the related information. Hopefully it matches the correct user, but what if you are using your neighbor’s or someone is using yours without permission? No one ever knows. There is an old meme on the internet that says no one knows you’re a dog. At the end of the day, we give information freely over the internet. We never know who we are giving it to, what they are doing with it, what someone else will do with it, because no one is verifying it. Digital identity helps solve those issues. Let’s say you’re taking an accreditation exam, or university or high school exam, how do we know the person who is taking it is who they say they are? There are so many instances when having a verified digital identity backed by biometrics, assures every party that you are a real person.
I’ve been asking you a lot of questions. If you could have me ask you any question on the planet, what would you want me to ask you?
What’s my favorite color?
Alright David, what’s your favorite color?
Blue, but the blue I’m thinking about is likely not the same blue that you think of. The reason I mention it is because we all suffer from something I call blue theory, which says, “pick a blue, any blue.” If we all picked a blue, I guarantee you it wouldn’t be the same blue. The information that is being transmitted may not be the information that you think it is. We are unique. So digital identity becomes a ubiquitous form of opportunity to assure everyone that we are all on the same level playing field.
That is so interesting and intriguing to me. Is there anything that I didn’t cover that you want to tell me?
I think what we’ve done with our peanut butter idea of the Metaverse is bridge the gap between what people my age can do and what younger people can do, making it easier to make those leaps and bounds. We are trying to make it simple for everyone to adopt the technology. We’re trying to add the free shipping to the challenges of online shopping. We’re taking that analogy and saying we want you to have digital identity because it is going to be smarter, safer for you online in the long term, but we are going to combine it with some cool Avatars, Metaverse and other immerse technologies and other facets so everyone can participate. You don’t have to have cryptocurrency or anything else. We can make the road to inclusion simple. Everything is going to get more complicated; we have three cameras on a phone now, what do I need more than one camera for? We are really trying to bring it down to what the benefits are, the value proposition for the user so that the journey is easier and shorter.