The Founding Team


Valerie Khan

  • Valerie is a senior advisor and researcher with a focus on digital identity and privacy. Between 2015-2018 she lead the digital identity agenda for the UN World Food Programme and initiated partnerships with the World Bank, UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM. 
  • Today, she is advising and collaborating with the World Bank’s ID4D, UNHCR, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the German cooperation for international collaboration (GIZ), ICRC, BMGF and OSF. 
  • Valerie developed a capacity methodology for creating the most appropriate digital identity and registration solutions for the circumstances. The methodology considers all aspects of systematic change, including legal framework, technology, local skills and institutional arrangements, and enables the best design to be identified and implemented for the benefit of all. 
  • Valerie previously worked in banking for ten years, responsible for teams and programmes across Europe and Russia. Prior to that, she completed a European management programme for high-potential leaders at GE.


Karl Steinacker

  • With 30+ years’ experience in the aid and development industry, Karl has a very practical approach to digital identity: what is in it and for whom? He has managed $multi-million budgets in Africa and the Middle East through the entire programme cycle, in hands-on as well as in supervisory functions. He was acting co-chair of the global cluster on Camp Coordination and Camp Management. He built refugee camps, closed them, and looked for alternatives. He lead UNHCR's statistics, information, and registration activities for several years, and introduced biometrics to refugee operations. Karl’s hands-on experience of the complexities on the ground provides essential practical insights as to system implementation and use in real conditions. 
  • Karl has since maintained a special interest in the digital transition of the aid industry, in particular digital identity management and the establishment of trust frameworks. He studied Political Sciences and International Relations at Freie Universität, Berlin, and International Law at the University of Cambridge, UK.
  • Find out more about Karl on this website

Dr. Richard Wilcox

  • Richard is Senior Advisor for Cyberconflict Diplomacy at the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva. 
  • Richard previously served as founding Director General of the African Union’s sovereign risk management agency, the African Risk Capacity (ARC) where he managed the development of the ARC’s proprietary weather risk software platform and designed a climate adaptation finance mechanism. He also managed the creation of ARC Ltd, a Bermuda-regulated US$300m sovereign insurance company serving African states. 
  • Richard has been advocating for fairer social sharing of the value of data in the digital economy including through a 2016 Oxford Internet Institute study on data extraction taxation. In 2016 he also advised Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan on its philanthropic engagements in Seattle. 
  • As a negotiator, Richard led the United Nations engagement as Representative of the UN Secretary General with the government of Serbia during Kosovo’s independence declaration in 2008 and with Iraqi factions as UN Political Director.
  • An Adjunct Professor at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Bologna, Italy, he has taught graduate seminars on Humanitarian Politics, Political Conflict Analysis and now Cyberconflict Risk. 
  • He holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Find out more about Richard on Wikipedia:

supporting members


Paul Makin

  • Paul has been working on digital finance and digital banking services in both industrialised and emerging markets for 30+ years, and he was the cocreator of the M-PESA mobile money service in Kenya. Much of his background has been with the international payment schemes, in the specification and development of new payments services, and working with banks to develop an overall strategy for their customer-focused product offerings. Recently he has also been extensively involved in the development of strategies for customer onboarding in the light of developments in digital identity, KYC, the emerging KYC utilities, the growing emphasis on customer privacy and data protection, biometrics, and the lack of conventional digital footprints amongst the so-called ‘digital natives’.
  • Outside mainstream payments, he has worked with a range of cryptocurrencies. He has also worked with banks and financial regulators across Europe, Africa and South Asia in the development and regulation of new financial services. He offers significant experience of deploying innovative digital financial services and solutions as well as an in-depth understanding of considered operational and information security best practice within the global retail payments industry. 
  • Paul holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Computer Science and Pure Mathematics.


We are just forming our team, so watch the space or reach out with interesting suggestions!