Taking A More Tactical View of Identity And How It Affects Our Daily Lives (Part 1)

Blog | 14 March 2019

Are you aware of the ways portable and re-usable digital identity can help companies with processes like know-your-customer? When an individual wants to open a bank account, the financial institution has to verify their identity before they can access the desired product. Using portable identities where data are off-chain but data certifications are on a blockchain makes this process faster and less prone to error. This is a win for everyone. Clients obtain their account faster and the financial institution gets its product sold quicker and for less money.

However, the real benefit usually goes to the corporation. How often do most of us open bank accounts? This is where the real issue becomes obvious. There has not been a lot of discussion about how digital identities can help us every day and not just once in a while. So what can these portable, cross-domain identities do for us on a day-to-day basis?

The primary characteristics of these identity types

Validated

Customer data is validated by a third party and the certificate of that validation is put onto a blockchain. For important information like birth certificates and drivers’ licenses, the validator is probably a government or other trusted organization. These certifications are typically tokenized addenda to their offline counterparts. For example, a university likely offers a paper diploma, online access to the graduation information, and a blockchain validation token. Other types of personally identifiable information could be validated in other ways, such as credit information through social claims.

Reusable

The data has already been validated and is trustworthy. This way, people accessing the information on the blockchain do not need to re-validate the data every time. For example, a user can present their proof of address to a mortgage broker and an employer without each company having to validate that data with a third party.

Protected

Users choose who can access their identity data, giving proactive consent. This consent can also be revoked at any time. Users have more control over how much of their data are visible and to whom. Additionally, others will have to store less of their data on their own systems, reducing the likelihood of important data being vulnerable to attacks on corporate systems.

How identity can be useful on a day-to-day basis

Now we have defined these characteristics, what are the situations where we can streamline everyday interactions? Let’s think about identity in a looser definition, not just “proving who one is” legally, but tying identities to eligibility for other services. Identities are the foundation for many other actions, such as:

  • Determining eligibility for services or resources.
  • Verifying relationships between people and assets. The identity of the asset also has to be verified for the ownership of that asset to be verified.
  • Accessing information on behalf of another person for whom a user has a responsibility, without having to use that person’s credentials.

In part 2, we will give examples of these daily use cases for blockchain-based identity.


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The primary characteristics of these identities

Validated

Customer data is validated by a third party and the certificate of that validation is put onto a blockchain. For important information like birth certificates and drivers’ licenses, the validator is probably a government or other trusted organization. These certifications are typically tokenized addenda to their offline counterparts. For example, a university likely offers a paper diploma, online access to the graduation information, and a blockchain validation token. Other types of personally identifiable information could be validated in other ways, such as credit information through social claims.

Reusable

The data has already been validated and is trustworthy. This way, people accessing the information on the blockchain do not need to re-validate the data every time. For example, a user can present their proof of address to a mortgage broker and an employer without each company having to validate that data with a third party.

Protected

Users choose who can access their identity data, giving proactive consent. This consent can also be revoked at any time. Users have more control over how much of their data are visible and to whom. Additionally, others will have to store less of their data on their own systems, reducing the likelihood of important data being vulnerable to attacks on corporate systems.

How identity can be useful on a day-to-day basis

Now we have defined these characteristics, what are the situations where we can streamline everyday interactions? Let’s think about identity in a looser definition, not just “proving who one is” legally, but tying identities to eligibility for other services. Identities are the foundation for many other actions, such as:

  • Determining eligibility for services or resources.
  • Verifying relationships between people and assets. The identity of the asset also has to be verified for the ownership of that asset to be verified.
  • Accessing information on behalf of another person for whom a user has a responsibility, without having to use that person’s credentials.

In part 2, we will give examples of these daily use cases for blockchain-based identity.