SSI Fundamentals VIII: Putting it Together

a year ago   •   3 min read

By Pete Vielhaber

The SSI Fundamentals journey is almost complete. The goal was to explain the basic concepts of Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) in an understandable and relatable way, not a deep dive into each component or how-to guide.

This final article will demonstrate a complete view how all of these elements and concepts are involved. This will solidify the understanding of how SSI-powered interactions within an ecosystem would work. We invite you to follow along using the Atala PRISM app available in the Android/iOS stores in conjunction with our website.

In this demo, we will follow Jo, who is entering an SSI ecosystem for the first time. She has already generated a DID and will be using it to make all of the connections. We will expand on some of the demo's steps to better understand the concepts we have covered in our SSI Fundamentals blog series.

Government ID

We need to lay a little foundation before diving into the demo. In this example, the government of Metropol is just transitioning to digital identity. Not all documents and credentials are digital yet, so Jo will need to use physical documents to establish her identity. These documents could be an existing government ID, driver's license, passport, birth certificate, etc.

Each one of these documents has a different authentication process. An example is that driver's licenses and passports have barcodes. Other documents are trickier and involve watermarks, embossing, seals, special paper, etc. These documents are more difficult to authenticate because they may require manual verification.

This verification problem speaks to the assurance topic. Jo provides her existing government ID, birth certificate, driver's license, and passport, all of which state Jo is Jo. Document authentication will still occur, but because Jo has multiple documents verifying her identity, authentication is quicker.

This explanation may seem obvious or dense, but it must be clear that a government is unlikely to issue an official ID to someone without verifying who that person is. The demo does not dive into this exchange, but it will occur.

One final topic is that, just like you, if you are following along, Jo downloaded an app, in her case, an identity wallet. She created a DID that she will use to connect, interact, and communicate with other entities.

The demo begins when the verification is complete, the wallet is ready, and Jo has created a DID.

Fig. 1 Demo
Fig. 2 Demo Cont'd
Fig. 2 Demo Cont'd
Fig. 3 Demo Cont'd
Fig. 3 Demo Cont'd


This demo is a single example of how interactions could work in a decentralized identity ecosystem. A demo like this allows us to understand how interactions work between peers and highlights design challenges and user experiences that need addressing.

If we think back to 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone, the first smartphone we know today, the user experience was incredible. Users could transition to using the new devices with little effort and guidance. Everything felt natural and made sense from the user's perspective. As new features get added, it becomes slightly more complex with different swiping and touching gestures, but the basic functionality is the same.

This communication revolution of 15 years ago is the same pivot point where identity is today. The SSI experience needs to feel natural when users are interacting and communicating. If this experience is not correct, adoption will be slow and difficult.

In the future, we may dive more in-depth into some of these concepts with a more technical aspect in mind within our upcoming documentation site. Stay tuned for more blogs exploring other exciting use cases, concepts, and features of Atala PRISM and SSI.

Spread the word

Keep reading