Voice of the Industry

The future is digital: the many uses of decentralised identity

Monday 15 May 2023 08:35 CET | Editor: Irina Ionescu | Voice of the industry

Joe Malenfant, Director of Product and Solutions Marketing at Ping Identity, discusses the multiple uses of decentralised identity (DCI), and its benefits towards a safer, fraud-free society.

Spotlight on decentralised identity

Decentralised identity (DCI) is a revolutionary approach to identity management that puts people in control of their digital identity information. Sometimes referred to as self-sovereign identity, it eliminates the need for users to provide unnecessary amounts of personal information to access a service online. 

With DCI, organsations issue users a verifiable digital credential that is stored in the user's digital wallet. Users present their credentials to organisations that verify the information and confirm the source of the credentials instantly, without having to contact the issuer to confirm legitimacy or accuracy. A digital credential represents any claims that the issuer has verified. These claims typically include attributes that support:
  • Identification: biographic information, photo, PIN code, etc.

  • Eligibility:  entitlements, permissions, privileges, etc.

  • Affiliation: employment status, membership status, account status, etc.

  • Other extended attributes: rules about how/when/where a credential is intended to be used, account balances, and credit score.

Claims could be implemented for: 
  • Proof of purchase: property deed, car title, sports & concert tickets, insurance 

  • Membership: citizenship, employment, association/club, residence, subscription

  • Achievement: educational diploma, professional certification, titles & distinctions


What are the advantages of using decentralised identity?

According to the 2022 Verizon DBIR, over 80% of breaches started with compromised credentials. In contrast, DCI uses robust identity verification methods prior to issuing a cryptographically signed credential to ensure that personal information is secure and cannot be shared or altered without the owner's permission. The information is stored with the owner, primarily on their mobile device and in a digital wallet. 

Compared to traditional approaches that rely on extensive backend integrations and federation across organizations, DCI supports a modern, scalable architecture that makes digital identity more portable, while improving convenience, security, and privacy.

Among the great benefits of DCI, one can count the following:
  1. Ownership of data. Credentials are stored in the user's mobile device, fixing the choice, consent, and control in the hands of the user. Users are empowered to take advantage of more and new services while staying protected from unnecessary tracking, data abuse, and potential breaches. It also minimises the risk for service providers who no longer need to store stale copies of the user's PII.

  2. Multi-use credentials. Credential issuance is not based upon a narrow set of identity proofs like a government-issued ID or a vaccine card. A credential can be issued to include any claim that an authority can verify or that they mint. This can include any claim, attribute, or facet about a user's identity, authorisations, affiliations, or purpose.

  3. Eliminate friction. Once a user verifies their identity, a credential may be issued so that the user never needs to go through the verification process again. That credential may be shared with entities other than the issuing authority, thanks to credentials benefitting from industry standards.

DCI gives users greater control over their personal information. Rather than having third-party entities dictate how personal information is used and shared, DCI allows individuals to control their own data, choosing what information is shared, to whom, and how it is used. No more wondering, 'How did this person get my information?'

What are some practical applications?

Verifiable credentials apply across several industries including:

  • Financial services can use verifiable credentials to reduce check cashing fraud through robust identity proofing mechanisms once and issuing a verifiable credential for the future. Banks can also offer business partners to leverage these same credentials for strong identification and to access affiliate services.

  • Government services can use verifiable credentials to replace many paper-based documents, including birth certificates, fishing licenses, real estate documents, and driving licenses. Verifiable credentials could also secure voting systems and ensure only eligible voters can vote.

  • Retail and ecommerce can use verifiable credentials to verify the age of customers, such as for purchasing age-restricted products like alcohol and tobacco, and for loyalty programmes that include accessing services and benefits from business partners. 

The increased mobility of users and their demand for personalised, unified omnichannel access experiences has stretched today’s Identity and Access Management systems beyond their limits. Meanwhile, the need for organisations to collaborate more to compete and build communities of trust and value for those same users affordably and securely, cannot be met by existing federated IAM solutions. By implementing DCI, organisations can improve existing experiences, create opportunities for new, valuable experiences, and increase engagement and collaboration with business partners. 

Decentralised identity is a paradigm shift in the digital landscape and revolutionises how users interact with organisations.

About Joe Malenfant

Joe leads the company's customer identity and access management solutions marketing team, in charge with providing clarity to prospects, customers, and partners. Joe has over ten years of leadership experience driving innovation in Security, Information Technology, and the Internet of Things. He holds an MBA from Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI and an undergraduate degree from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.



About PingIdentity

At Ping Identity, we believe in making enterprise experiences both secure and seamless for all users, without compromise. That’s digital freedom. To achieve this, the PingOne Cloud Platform turns you into an experienced artist who can bring exceptional journeys to life with a simple no-code canvas. You can deliver password-less authentication, protect user privacy, prevent fraud, architect for zero trust, and much more. For more information, please visit www.pingidentity.com.

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Keywords: identity verification, digital identity, self souvereign identity, federated identity, biometric authentication, credit scoring, digital verification, fraud management, fraud detection, online fraud, fraud prevention, identity fraud, payment fraud, credit card fraud, loyalty programme, omnichannel, DCI, decentralized identity
Categories: Fraud & Financial Crime
Companies: Ping Identity
Countries: World
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Fraud & Financial Crime

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