by Stephan Wolf, CEO, Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF)
In May 2020 the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF), the not-for-profit body established by the G20 and the Financial Stability Board to oversee the Global LEI System, became a founding contributing member of the Trust over IP Foundation. Its vision? That every legal entity should have one global identity, and this should include a digital identity.
Since 2014, under GLEIF’s stewardship, the Global LEI System has been providing open and reliable data enabling the unambiguous identification of organizations (‘legal entities’) around the world. With almost two million unique identifiers (LEIs) now in use, the system has already delivered much needed transparency to financial markets, for both regulators and participants.
GLEIF is now broadening its horizons to drive LEI adoption across all sectors and industries, with the goal of establishing the LEI as the de-facto choice for organizational identity globally.
Enabling digitized trust is central to GLEIF’s proposition. Particularly so considering the huge and sustained surge in legal entities engaging in digital transactions. The pace of digital transformation shows no sign of abating, and the business of manually performing background checks on legal entities already inflates costs and causes huge unnecessary delays.
GLEIF and ToIP agree that there is an urgent, unmet need for greater security, convenience, and ease-of-use in digital identity for organizations and the persons that represent them in either official or functional roles. To address this need, in late 2020, GLEIF launched a global cross-industry development program designed to create a fully digitized, cryptographically verifiable LEI (vLEI) service. Since then, GLEIF together with stakeholders across a wide range of sectors has been working in full accordance with the standards of the Trust over IP Foundation to develop the vLEI’s technical underpinnings and its Ecosystem Governance Framework, which was published for ToIP Foundation member review.
To date, the Framework is the most comprehensive ever developed based on the ToIP Governance Metamodel and is a great, early-stage example of how the potential of the ToIP Stack can be realized to digitally enhance an already established global system. It shows how a secure, interoperable, and massively scalable decentralized trust layer can enable existing services to get ahead of the critical issues relating to authentication and verification that otherwise threaten a smooth transition to the digital realm and all the benefits that delivers.
Once established, vLEI system will be capable of establishing digital trust between all legal entities, everywhere. It will give government organizations, companies, and other legal entities worldwide the capacity to use non-repudiable identification data pertaining to their legal status, ownership structure and authorized representatives in a growing multitude of digital business activities, such as approving business transactions and contracts, onboarding customers, transacting within import/export and supply chain business networks, and submitting regulatory filings and reports.
The vLEI has a bright future. It has the potential to become one of the most valuable digital credentials in the world because it is the hallmark of authenticity for a legal entity of any kind. The family of digital credentials in the GLEIF vLEI Ecosystem Governance Framework can serve as a chain of trust for anyone needing to verify the legal identity of an organization or of a person legally acting on that organization’s behalf. The demand this will create for LEIs — and the impact it will have on adoption of self-sovereign identity — cannot be overestimated. It will be a sea change for digital trust infrastructure that will benefit every country, company, and citizen in the world.
Learn more about GLEIF and the vLEI at the GLEIF website here: https://www.gleif.org/en/lei-solutions/gleifs-digital-strategy-for-the-lei/introducing-the-verifiable-lei-vlei
About the Author
Stephan Wolf is the CEO of the Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF). Between January 2017 and June 2020, Mr. Wolf was Co-convener of the International Organization for Standardization Technical Committee 68 FinTech Technical Advisory Group (ISO TC 68 FinTech TAG). In January 2017, Mr. Wolf was named one of the Top 100 Leaders in Identity by One World Identity. He has extensive experience in establishing data operations and global implementation strategy. He has led the advancement of key business and product development strategies throughout his career. Mr. Wolf co-founded IS Innovative Software GmbH in 1989 and served first as its managing director. He was later named spokesman of the executive board of its successor IS.Teledata AG. This company ultimately became part of Interactive Data Corporation where Mr. Wolf held the role of CTO. Mr. Wolf holds a university degree in business administration from J. W. Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main.