The KYC slot rollout has been steadily scaling since its release on March 14, Pi Day. Since then, the focus has been on scaling the system and bootstrapping the crowd validation network. Below, we delineate the KYC funnel that the network needs to go through to scale, and give you a window into some important recent progress as well as what’s next.
The network KYC funnel
Simply put, in order to scale Pi KYC throughput, the network needs to scale every step of the network KYC funnel, which breaks down into three main steps described below. Some of the scaling depends on the system and algorithm improvement which the Core Team has been working hard on, while other aspects of scaling rely on the participation by Pioneers, namely, completing the KYC application process and applying to become Validators.
Step 1. Upon invitation, Pioneers download the Pi Browser to access the Pi KYC app.
Step 2. Pioneers complete and submit the KYC application.
Step 3. The KYC system, using machine learning algorithms and human Validators, processes the application.
The Core Team’s focus has been primarily on scaling Step 3 and reducing friction to improve the user experience in Step 2. At the same time, Pioneers can help with KYC by preparing for Step 1 by downloading the Pi Browser, and once their KYC gets approved, by applying to become a Validator (Step 3).
Scaling Step 1
There are two variables here: Firstly, the Core Team is randomly inviting a number of Pioneers each day to KYC. Second, these Pioneers decide if they want to accept the invitation at that moment and access the KYC app to submit their application. Increasing the number of invitations to enter the funnel is technically trivial in this step – we could simply invite everyone. But before we do that, we need to make sure that the large volume of invitations will not create clogs that actually impede the speed of bootstrapping and overall system scaling, so the following steps of the funnel are not blocked. That’s why the Core Team is imposing restrictions on this step. Before increasing the invitations, the Core Team has been focusing on increasing the throughputs of the following steps in reverse order, i.e. removing bottlenecks from Step 3, before Step 2 and before we remove the restrictions imposed on Step 1.
Scaling Step 2
As an example of bottlenecks on Step 2, many Pioneers had issues with the liveness check during the submission of their KYC application. This liveness test is a critical feature of the KYC application meant to establish that a Pi account holder is a real human being. To this end, Step 2 requires KYC applicants to make certain facial expressions based on the instructions, which are validated by machine and human Validators. However, many types of phone models, primarily older ones, were not always able to capture these expressions, so Pioneers were often unable to complete and submit their KYC applications. Recent user experience improvements and server-side algorithms have significantly reduced the friction for Pioneers to complete their KYC application, including the liveness check.
More iterative improvements will be made generally on Step 2 based on the continual feedback from the process.
Scaling Step 3
Scaling Step 3 is a major endeavor which involves improving the system and bootstrapping human validations geographically.
The Core Team has made significant system improvements in scaling machine automation. We have added, improved and scaled security measures such as traceable watermarks to images shown to Validators, Validator training processes, and queues of tasks for human Validators. Maintaining randomness in queuing work for Validators is a conscious system design choice to prevent potential Validator gamesmanship and collusion. Another important choice is to break up pieces of validation work for each KYC application and spread them to multiple Validators as a privacy protection measure. These two choices, however, create a challenge in getting a KYC application fully processed, adding to the application backlog. Here, optimizing the task queuing algorithm is key. It has been largely improved to help scale application processing, thereby reducing the time it takes for one application to get fully processed, while achieving the two goals of KYC integrity and privacy.
We are happy to announce that, for the past week, Step 3 has stopped bottlenecking the KYC funnel and is now able to process more KYC applications than what is passing through from previous steps.
Note that the system is still producing a relatively large ratio of false rejections due to our highly conservative criteria. So for these false rejections, we withhold announcing KYC results to these Pioneers while we continually tune the processes and reprocess their applications to have fewer false rejections and get them safely approved.
Bootstrapping Validation Geographically
Because of the variety of languages and ID types in the world, KYC validation is a localized process that leverages the knowledge and familiarity of local KYC Validators. Therefore, the KYC system needs to be first bootstrapped in every country or region. In other words, every country or region needs enough Validators to approve the KYC applications of other Pioneers, which brings in more potential Validators to the KYC system, thus setting off a virtuous cycle.
To date, the Pi KYC system has bootstrapped the human validation workforce in 77 countries and regions — areas that represent about 80% of the global population. Since we aim to cover every single region permissible by law, we are continuously stepping up our efforts to bootstrap more places. One improvement we have made — recognizing the relative universality in liveness and selfie checks — is that the system widens the eligibility of Validators for these checks to Pioneers outside their country or region, while still restricting the verification of the authenticity of the applicant’s identity card to the Validator’s country or region. As another example, Core team members and Chat Moderators are tirelessly validating KYC applications from un-bootstrapped places until enough Validators from those places emerge. These choices have helped the system cover those countries or regions that are still bootstrapping, and consequently, we see a constant increase in the number of bootstrapped countries or regions.
In addition to improving user experience and bootstrapping validation, the network will, in parallel, continue to improve its validation algorithm so that more work can be automated by machines, reducing reliance on human Validators. This will help scale the KYC solution to Pioneers around the world regardless of their region or background.
At the same time, Pioneers can take two important steps to expedite the network’s progress of KYC verification and the subsequent Mainnet migration.
First, more KYC Validators are needed! Increasing the number of successful KYC validations now primarily depends on how many human Validators there are in each local community. So if you are already KYC-verified, we encourage you to apply to become a Validator. More KYC’ed Pioneers increases the pool for potential Validators. Also remember that Validators will receive Pi pooled from successful KYC applicants for their work 🙂
Second, remember to download the Pi Browser! The Pi KYC app can only be found on the Pi Browser, the platform for the burgeoning utilities-based Pi ecosystem. Once Pioneers receive an in-app notification that their KYC slot is open, they will be led to the KYC app within the Pi Browser. You should be ready when it’s your time!
The network is continually improving the KYC infrastructure and clearing technical bottlenecks along the way. This has resulted in significant increases in the network’s ability to process KYC applications, and with Pioneers’ enthusiastic participation, the good work will continue. Stay tuned for updates.