The digital world is beginning to understand what we have known for a while–identity is essential to everything we do. Our identity influences our interactions in finance, healthcare, education, supply chains, and everything we touch. To engage the services above, we need access.
Unfortunately, identity management today is not easy. We have online (digital) identities and documents that are not secure and controlled by centralized services and companies. We still have physical credentials, like insurance cards, driver's licenses, passports, etc. This complex blend of documents makes identity difficult today, but it doesn't need to be.
Web3 + Identity
There is an inseparable link between Web3 and cryptocurrency. Crypto from one chain cannot be spent or used on another without some exchange or swap. Identity cannot operate this way because it goes with us wherever we go.
When traveling to another country, we exchange our local currency for the currency where we go. There are exceptions, but in most cases, only local currency is acceptable. However, a passport, or identity, is accepted everywhere.
Locally different geographical locations will have acceptable documents to get a driver's license, open a bank account, enroll in school, etc. Most banks today only let a new customer open an account if they are in person, and justifiably so.
I spent two decades in big finance, and one of the biggest problems is knowing your customer (KYC). With paper documents that are forgeable and digital documents with low security, if any, with no way to verify that data. It seems responsible to only accept information in person to open an account. However, this doesn't have to be the case.
Atala PRISM is a suite of products that enable decentralized identity management. It is blockchain agnostic––not bound to a single chain. PRISM empowers users to take control of their identities (decentralized identifiers or DIDs) and manage their verifiable credentials (VCs).
VCs can replace physical documents like passports, driver's licenses, specialized access badges, education certificates, etc. They could also replace the unsecured, centralized account models we use today, where our data is in someone else's control. Imagine a new Single Sign On (SSO) protocol that is secured, private, and allows the user to share data instead of having centralized companies control it.
The communication protocol, DIDComm v2, allows communications regardless of blockchain or device. That's right–take the most secure publicly available communication services, like Signal, decentralize it, remove the middleman, and voila–communications how they should be, secure and private.
It is possible for someone using an identity wallet on Algorand's chain to hold credentials issued by a company using Cardano because the issuance occurs between the issuer and the holder. Then that person could contact their friend who has a wallet on Stellar because nothing is happening on-chain. It's directly between users.
Decentralized identifiers (DIDs) are not required to be published on-chain. The only instance where it is necessary is if you issue credentials. This requirement is because verifiable credentials need to be verifiable, which means the issuer-DID must be resolvable.
The average user will not know, nor is it essential to know, the credential issuance protocol, such as Atala PRISM, Hyperledger Aries, etc. With PRISM, it doesn't matter. Our universal resolver can verify credentials from other services, which leads to interoperability and thriving ecosystems.
To learn more read our SSI Fundamentals blog series.
Bridging the gap
Identity needs to be portable and interoperable with Web3 and Web2 technologies. Web3 is the future, but integrating tech into Web2 is just as essential to bridge the gap between old and new systems. Change doesn't occur overnight, and as Web3 believers, it is our responsibility to fill the gap making adoption possible.
Cardano, Algorand, Stellar, Polygon, Ethereum, and others have been diligently working on improving finance worldwide for some time. It is good to have options that solve different problems. Identity is different. It needs to work everywhere, for everyone–seamlessly.
To learn more, join the Atala PRISM Pioneer program here to learn more about decentralized identity.