Self-Sovereign Identity – Reality vs Expectations

With the self-sovereign identity industry expected to grow from a $100 million industry in 2020 to a $1.1 Billion industry by 2024, there is no question that the market is rapidly moving forward and in the right direction. However the question that may arise from this is what are the expectations of self-sovereign identity and how far can it really go? Below we explore possible scenarios as well as currently available technology to understand where the industry is at and where it is heading.

The Reality

SSI and companies within this industry are still in their early stages. Many early adopter companies require a consultancy approach for implementation, as well as integration with technical solution market leaders such as Evernym

Global companies such as Barclaycard, World Food Programme and Accenture are already exploring the possibilities of SSI, and now should be the time for your organisation too if you still haven’t. 

Current possibilities

Corporations already have the ability to issue and verify digital credentials using DIDs (decentralised identifiers) . 

They are defined as the new type of globally unique identifier designed to enable individuals and organisations to generate their own identifiers using trusted systems, as well as the ability to prove control of those identifiers (authenticate) using cryptographic proofs. 

Issuing digital credentials

Organisations have the ability to become “trusted” issuers within their industry and offer digital credentials to its users. What are the benefits of this and why should institutions not ignore the possibility of becoming a custodian of trust? 

Financial institutions 

identifymi-financial-institutions

One of the main hurdles for financial institutions are its traditional and strict regulatory requirements that have its own implications such as costly infrastructures, however banks could and should use this to their advantage. By leveraging the power of knowing your own customer, new and innovative digital transformation approaches could help turn banks into marketplaces that enable all other digital transactions. Spencer Lake (formerly Global Chair for Banking & Markets at HSBC,) featured in Shifted explores this further in a recently written article “ Why banks need to flip their digitalisation strategy” 

There’s an ability to reverse the dynamic and be a safer custodian of users’ digital identities.

Educational institutions 

Educational institutions can now empower its students with the ability to instantly issue digital credentials in order to help students prove their graduation and claim certifications. No more reliance on physical paper certifications or storage of PDFs on computers. Educational institutions should work with their students helping them overcome challenges post-education. 

Healthcare institutions 

identifymi_healthcare_institutions

The NHS and healthcare organisations globally have the ability to eliminate costly infrastructures within their trusts by giving back control of personal data to patients, doctors, nurses and employees. Improve the internal processes of hiring freelance nurses and doctors in times of urgent need without having to do lengthy processes of checking accreditations. Issue digital credentials to speed up on-boarding processes reducing manual and labour intense work for “fact checking” . 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought many challenges globally and in particular the healthcare industry. As a way to reopen society and bring back some kind of “normality” into our everyday lives as well as the workforce, healthcare institutions have the ability to issue COVID and vaccination related credentials helping individuals identify themselves as “safe to work” or “safe to travel” individuals.

Get in touch with iDentifymi to explore your options of becoming a trusted issuer for a universal digital ID and data management platform. 

Verifying digital credentials

According to Accenture, lack of trust costs global brands $2.5 trillion annually as users desert them for competitors. Businesses cannot ignore these measures and should look to improve internal processes when it comes to management of personal data, how that data is treated and used. Implementation of blockchain technology and using service providers that offer this capability would be a step in the right direction. 

Organisations globally also have the ability to use these issued credentials as a way to “verify” and “authenticate” its users providing them with an opportunity to use services whilst still gaining and having ownership of personal data. 

Industries that could benefit from this are countless including retail, insurance or the gaming industry. Other possibilities also include: simplifying customer identity management processes as well as streamlines due-diligence processes. 

Challenges of SSI

Jupiter Research author James Moar explains: “Self-Sovereign Identity has high potential due to its security and data privacy credentials, but our report shows that, in order for it to succeed, businesses and governments need to take the lead and rule out use of less secure, but easier to implement, alternatives.” 

Governments as well as big institutions must not ignore these innovative digital transformations and should work with businesses to help the adoption of self-sovereign identity. Furthermore, in the “Beginners Guide to self-sovereign identity” we also cover 3 key challenges: 

  1. Early adoption
  2. Reliance on trusted authorities
  3. The scale challenge

The Expectations

The eutopia. With mass adoption globally the expectations are enormous such as:

Organisations should use this as an opportunity to start exploring options within their own industries and how they can leverage digital IDs to their advantage using secure and decentralised technologies. 

What sovereign-identity is and what it isn’t

Due to blockchain and SSI still being in its “early adoption”, questions such as “will we need governments in the future” to “what are the possibilities of individuals issuing their own digital credentials” still arise and quite frankly for a good reason. Crypto and the fin-tech markets have greatly explored the possibilities of eliminating the “middle men” however with a self-sovereign identity we must look at it from a different angle. 

It’s easy to imagine a world without needing financial institutions or the government to prove identity however the question we have to address is how realistic is that statement? We must understand that SSI is NOT for: 

  1. Black lists. You don’t issue paper credentials to someone who’s on a black list (i.e. a wanted criminal by the government) , so you wouldn’t issue them a digital one either.
  2. SSI is not a replacement of passports or driving license, but ultimately a “digital add on” that you can use universally whilst still maintaining control. 
  3. Self-sovereign identity doesn’t mean that individuals can “self-attain” all of the information about themselves removing the need for trusted authorities. Just like with passports or driving licenses, you still need ‘human trust’ in the “issuers” of the digital credentials. You cannot and should not be able to claim you are “Bill Gates” if you are “Bob Dylan”. 

For this reason, we still have to rely on institutions that individuals trust in terms of the ability to “prove you are who you say you are” and although the possibilities of “self attaining” digital credentials sound rather exciting, there are many challenges that come with this and the industry itself has not reached that level just yet. 

Summary 

All in all, SSI has created many opportunities both for the identity owner and requesting parties. Businesses should stay on top of digital transformations and start to explore opportunities with issuing as well as verifying digital credentials. Putting users at the core of their own identity will become the new normal. 

Do not wait for tomorrow and act now. 

identifymi-self-sovereign-identity-strategy-cta