Voice of the Industry

10 things you need to know about Self Sovereign Identity, part 2

Wednesday 29 August 2018 08:55 CET | Voice of the industry

Self Sovereign Identity offers an end-to-end application ecosystem designed to facilitate the commerce and exchange of digital and physical services.

In our second instalment, Kaliya “Identity Woman” Young and Heather Vescent, authors of, A Comprehensive Guide to Self Sovereign Identity share five more things you should know about Self Sovereign Identity. If you are interested to know which the previous ones were, you can read more at 10 things you need to know about Self Sovereign Identity, part 1.

1. SSI builds on the past, while solving for the future

Digital identity has been a problem from the beginning of the internet. Kim Cameron of Microsoft, one of the pioneers of user-centric identity efforts over the past 10 years said “The internet was not built with an identity layer.” The Internet Identity Workshop began convening about user-centric identity and the potential for an identity layer in 2005. Over a decade of work has gone into trying to solve the challenge of making a real working identity layer that doesn’t outsource digital identity provision to a corporation and is built on a set of standards not owned by any organization. The breakthroughs in SSI mean that individuals can be in control of their own identifiers that are resolvable at internet scale.

2. Co-opetition & collaboration is the new way of doing business

Standards are a common infrastructure that competitors develop so they can compete based on the products build upon them. This is good for all of us. Common standards ensure the technology is interoperable. For example a verifiable credential issued by one company’s software is viewable in any number of individual wallet vendors’ products and is readable by the verifiers’ software, even if it was created by a different vendor then the issuer. This interoperability is a critical feature for governments and creates new markets where companies develop competing products and services.

3. Smartphones are a key piece of the revolution

SSI couldn’t exist a decade ago it uses now common smartphones and cloud storage to solve difficult user interface problems related to key management. Smartphones support SSI wallet applications, making it easy for us to create and store thousands of Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs), and manage personal information. You can have multiple wallet apps on your phone to manage your relationships. Software agents that live in the cloud can securely store and manage your PII. You store your PII yourself, you don’t have to rely on the company’s database security to ensure your PII doesn’t get into the hands of a hacker.

4. It’s not just about the identity of people

SSI is often talked about in the context of supporting identity for people; however it is useful for Non-Person Entities (NPEs). There are two types of NPEs that operate as legal persons: corporations and nonprofit organizations. These organizations file papers and have articles of incorporation registered with the government. In the case of international trade, governments need a clear understanding of the identity of objects, owners and transporters. In these situations, it’s critical identity information be globally available and trusted.

5. SSI is real today

Two projects worth mentioning are moving beyond proof of concept:

1. The Canadian Province of British Columbia is leading a project on github called the Verifiable Organizations Network that aims to issue SSI credentials to businesses incorporated within the province. These include proof of the original incorporation and any business licences. BC based corporations will soon be required to present digital native Verifiable Credentials.

2. DHS Science and Technology has funded research using DIDs in global supply chains to support faster clearing of goods through customs. Recently Doug Moughan testified before congress and Maersk and IBM have introduced products in this space.

Find out why SSI is a technology solution unlike previous solutions in their new report, A Comprehensive Guide to Self Sovereign Identity. Authored by industry insiders for C-level executives, this report makes the world of SSI accessible with a comprehensive understanding of the technology, standards, projects and companies. Learn more at https://ssiscoop.com/.

Also in case you don’t want to miss what has been covered already on digital identity and SSI by The Paypers, check Blockchain – the next stop for storing the digital identity? .

About Heather Vescent

Heather Vescent owns and operates The Purple Tornado, a foresight and strategic intelligence consultancy. Vescent has delivered research insights to governments and corporations in digital identity, military learning, payments, transactions, and new economic models. Clients include US & UK governments, SWIFT, Disney, IEEE, mid-size companies and start-ups. Her research has been covered in the New York Times, CNN, American Banker, CNBC, Fox, and the Atlantic. She is an author of the Cyber Attack Survival Manual, published by Weldon-Owen.

About Kaliya Young

Kaliya “Identity Woman” Young holds a Master of Science in Identity Management and Security from UT Austin. She co-Founded the Internet Identity Workshop in 2005. She was elected as a founding management council member of National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) Identity Ecosystem Steering Committee. In 2012 she was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (WEF). She consults with governments, companies and startups about Personal Data and Self-Sovereign Identity.


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Keywords: self sovereign identity, digital identity, blockchain, Heather Vescent, Kaliya Young, banking, digital identity, supply chain
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Countries: World