Most people are still used to carrying around their wallets full of cards everywhere they go. However, not all of the cards we possess are widely accepted.
Our IDs and credit cards are examples of commonly trusted physical credentials, as they are issued respectively by a government entity or a bank.
But what about other information, such as proof that we work for a certain company, or that we have certain skills? Proving this information would require providing multiple documents, which are usually easy to forge and troublesome to present. Additionally, physical credentials often have no equivalent in the digital world.
Imagine that you could prove or verify any information about yourself or another person in just a few clicks. What’s more – you could do that independently of any service provider, or institution.
You’d be the only person managing access to your personal information, so you would truly own them, without having to worry about someone deleting your email account, a breach in cybersecurity (like the one that happened at Facebook last year) or memorizing all of the complicated passwords to your accounts.
What I’m talking about is a new form of digital identity, based on open standards, which can enable such digital credentials to be more trustworthy and respect the privacy of their owner. They could represent selected information found in physical credentials, such as a passport, as well as things that have no counterpart in our physical wallets (e.g., proof of income).
You may ask – if these credentials aren’t issued by any widely known organization or service provider, how can they be trusted? We have covered that part here, but the basic thing you should know now is that these identifiers are decentralized, meaning they leverage proven cryptographic systems like blockchain.
Such cryptographically verified credentials are called Verifiable Credentials (VC). Verifiable credential is a set of identity data from a trusted source (issuer) that a person or an organization (owner) can share with any entity they choose (verifier).
To make it more practical and prove the worth of modernized digital identity and Verifiable Credentials, I want to focus this article on real-life examples and use cases.
There are many scenarios, when decentralized identifiers can be useful on a daily basis. Let’s take a look.
The quality of onboarding experience may largely influence satisfaction and retention rate of the people you hire, cooperate with, or even your customers.
In case of the hiring process, the typical way to confirm the identity required the employees to show up in person and present their IDs, which isn’t possible in case of remote work. And even with digitalized verification solutions, being responsible for the personal data of customers, partners or employees is still a potential liability for an organization.
Validating information using Verifiable Credentials allows for trustworthy self-service enrollment and faster onboarding, reducing the amount of time and resources spent on the process.
Sensitive company resources, such as financial data, should be protected more than just by username and password. This additional security layer could have a form of Verifiable Credential, proving that a certain employee or partner is certified or trained and can access sensitive financial data.
Verifiable credentials may also be leveraged by trusted parties who wish to give access or benefits based on membership or employment at another organization. For example, when one organization hosts a marketplace which may offer employees of its partner organization certain discounts.
Forgetting passwords happens to everyone (and it’s hardly surprising, considering we use dozens of accounts every day). We all know how time-consuming and annoying it can be to try to regain access to an account (for more sensitive data, this often requires direct contact with support).
Verifying identity with an ID verification company allows employees to reset their passwords and get back into their accounts in a matter of seconds. Reduced support phone calls and security questions with a simpler, more secure process to verify identity, makes life easier for everyone.
When dealing with people claiming to be representatives of a company (e.g., for providing services), or purchasing specialized services (e.g., insurance), customers could scan the professionals’ Verifiable Credential to ensure they are dealing with a certified and qualified person.
You probably at least once had a situation when someone visited you and introduced himself as an agent from the electricity company to fix a problem. Verifying such a person can be tricky and, in this case, Verifiable Credentials can help.
Imagine that an electricity company issues Verifiable Credentials for each agent. Then during the visit, a client can take a mobile app, scan the Verifiable Credential Presented by the agent and confirm that this specific person is a verified employee of the electricity company.
Another example are insurance agents. Each time we want to buy a car or house insurance, we must contact the insurance agent. Verifiable Credentials could be used to prove that the person is a certified agent from one of the verified insurance companies.
From university diplomas and grades to driver’s licenses, proof of any skill or qualification can be issued in a digital form. This information can be used for recruitment but also in any case where proof of qualifications is necessary.
One example is renting a car. Each time we want to do that, we have to confirm our identity and prove that we have a valid driving license. With Verifiable Credentials, customers could be verified once and then at each car rental location they could present issued Verifiable Credentials to prove identity and driving permissions. This approach would significantly reduce the time needed to serve the client.
This can also work with university achievements. If the educational institution or potential employer requires from the applicant to have certain educational background, instead of carrying the diploma with themselves, students could be provided with Verifiable Credential to confirm that they completed studying at specific university and have specific grade.
At Predica, we are also developing VC solutions to make life easier for our employees. When one of our consultants wants to be involved in a project, that requires certain qualifications or training completion, they can approach the project manager or team leader and easily present the proof of acquired certification in a form of a Verifiable Credential issued by the training provider.
After completing the training, an employee can claim the certificate credential issued by Predica and store it in his Authenticator App.
To sum up – the benefits of decentralized identifiers may be considered from many perspectives, both personal and business.
I hope that these real-life examples give you an idea of the wide range of possibilities offered by Verifiable Credentials. If you’d like to discuss one of the use cases in more details and see the demo, sign up for a free consultation through this website.
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