In this episode of the Barefoot Innovation Podcast, Ellison Anne Williams talks about the power of Privacy Enhancing Technologies and their potential to disrupt business as usual.
Regulators throughout the world are looking at homomorphic encryption as one of several new kinds of technology that might enable much more widespread, but safe, sharing of information. The exciting potential is that data can be shared in encrypted form and then actually worked on, still in that form, without the need to decrypt at all. This means that if someone hacks into it, all they get is unusable, garbage information. They don’t get the information that needs to be kept secure.
This capability can offer a breakthrough for many regulatory challenges, but the need is especially acute in anti-money laundering. I met Ellison Anne because Enveil has been involved in the tech sprints run by the UK Financial Conduct Authority to look for better AML technology. Last summer, Enveil participated in the big tech sprint that the FCA held in London, and the company also sent people to join in the Washington satellite sprint that my nonprofit, AIR, held in collaboration with the British regulators. And it was on the winning teams at both.
Ellison Anne and I sat down for this conversation during the Singapore Fintech Festival late last year, in the bustling speakers lounge, which means there is some background noise. Still, I know you’ll enjoy hearing from her as she explains that homomorphic encryption is 30 year old technology that has suddenly become practical because it requires intensive computing power, and that power is now becoming cheap and abundant. The speed of this shift is, inevitably, causing regulatory policy to lag somewhat behind. Now is the time for policymakers who care about financial crime, and who care about data security and privacy, to take a close look at these new tools.