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May 4, 2020

The IMDEA Software Institute and BBVA are partnering to research advanced cryptographic techniques

Through this partnership, the IMDEA Software Institute and BBVA have created a joint framework to research the use of this technology in the development of digital solutions that make it possible to harness data’s potential while also ensuring that users’ data remain private, anonymous and secure.

The agreement is especially relevant in the current context marked by the coronavirus crisis, which is demonstrating the importance of having robust systems to safeguard the privacy and security of data. On the one hand, this is due to the rise of cyber-attacks in recent weeks in which cyber criminals are taking advantage of users’ increased use of digital channels during the lockdown. And on the other, due to the interest sparked by the creation of COVID-19 tracking apps that respect data privacy, for which technologies of this kind could be very useful.

With this new partnership, both institutions will explore the application of a series of cryptographic techniques in the financial sector - techniques that make it possible for data to be shared and analyzed without exposing their content to third parties thanks to algorithms, protocols and encryption systems. These technologies, known as PET, or privacy-enhancing technologies are one of the fields in which the IMDEA Software Institute specializes, as well as one of the areas of interest that BBVA researches in its Research and Patent area.

Within this group of technologies, one that has the greatest potential and which will be the main subject of the new team’s study is zero knowledge proofs (ZKP). This technology uses cryptographic algorithms to make it easier to verify the accuracy of information, without having to share the data that comprise it. This way, it can help to create data-based solutions in which customers’ sensitive data is not exposed to third parties (as it is not necessary to share the data with them to prove that they are accurate).

Thanks to this agreement, both institutions are combining their capacities and knowledge in these areas. The goal is for the research to translate into tangible advances that make it possible to transfer the benefits of this technology to the financial sector, the corporate world, the scientific community and society as a whole.

To do so, in the first stage, the joint team will research how to solve some of the current challenges that the roll-out of this technology is still facing in order to share the results with the scientific community to foster progress in this discipline. Some of these challenges involve its integration with the current communication systems that companies are using, or the lack of common standards for the use of cryptographic protocols, which complicates its adoption on a large scale.

BBVA and the IMDEA Software Institute will also work on a series of real use cases identified in the financial sector, as well as the development of viable prototypes that can be incorporated in the digital products and services offered to BBVA customers.

Joint press release

Joint statement on contact tracking