On the Horizon: Tykn and Social Impact Through Digital Identity - Identity Review - Identity Review | Global Tech Think Tank

Symbolic identity aside, physical identity is a fleeting concept. Physical papers are lost in wartime turmoil, digital identities are bogged in weak, and bygone-era websites are subject to ungodly amounts of bureaucracy before attainment. Take Tey Al-Rjula, who lost his birth certificate while escaping the Gulf War. He worked as an “invisible man” in the Netherlands until his visa, like many Syrian refugees, ended, landing him in an asylum center.

“Without an identity,” he told Silicon Canals, “you do not have access to many basic needs and therefore not to your human rights.”

This stands as the inspiration for Tykn, founded alongside social entrepreneurs Khalid Maliki and Jimmy J.P. Snoek. It’s a startup that provides digital identity management registration systems for public and private entities alike.

Tykn's Ana wallet app and the Ana dashboard

Tykn’s Ana wallet app and the Ana dashboard

Inner Workings

About 1.2 billion people in the world lack valid identity documentation, whether online or physical, according to Tykn. This is especially pertinent to refugees who, both abroad and within the country they intend to flee, lack the documentation to successfully resettle elsewhere. Enter Tykn, founded in 2017.

With their platform, called Ana, Tykn gives users digital identity wallets and apps, allowing them to access their identity credentials securely. In May 2019, the company raised €1.2M in funding from Dutch entrepreneur Johan Mastenbroek. They have also won funding awards for their efforts in the field of social entrepreneurship.

The Platform in Action

The Turkish Government has recently announced that it will be using Ana to accelerate work permit distribution for its 3 million refugees. The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs—alongside the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the INGEV Foundation, the World Food Programme (WFP), TÜBİTAK and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce—developed this application with the intent of making refugees financially independent.

Turkish business owners are able to start a work permit application and use their verifiable credentials to prove their ID and that they owned a registered business

Work permits are especially important for asylum-seekers. 

“Work permit is key to access to the social protection and decent working conditions for refugees in Turkey,” says the UNDP of Turkey to Silicon Canals. “Through the SDG Impact Accelerator Program (SDGia) Tykn has created an application that aims at reducing paperwork and manual verification processes

Khalid Maliki, a co-founder of Tykn, is confident in the partnership.

“With the use of self-sovereign identity, the processes of issuing and verification of documentation and identity credentials don’t need to be slow and costly anymore,” he says. “Developing this technology with such esteemed partners and positively impacting the lives of so many people is extremely rewarding for us.”

The idea of the application is even palpably affecting the lives of the people who are to receive it.

“This application will make people’s lives easier,” a Syrian refugee living in Turkey told Silicon Canals. “There is no need to lose time going to too many institutes. Instead of going there you’ll save the time and do it where you are.”


Olivia Baker is a Tech Innovation Fellow at Identity Review from Columbia University, where she writes on tech policy and national digital identity technologies.

Contact Olivia Baker at olivia@identityreview.com.

Do you have information to share with Identity Review? Email us at press@identityreview.com.

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