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Creating secure digital identities with blockchain, Sovrin-style

This is a new version of this article, which has been joined by a global consortium called.

via Twenty20

An identity utility

The Sovrin Network is proposed as a public service utility enabling self-sovereign identity on the internet. "It is governed by the Sovrin Foundation, a nonprofit established to administer the trust framework under which the network operates. Is open to anyone (or anybody) that is prepared to abide by the rules of the "club" . "

Sovrin proposes to dismantle the current centralized systems via which digital identities are created, owned, and issued (for example, by issuing passports and drivers' licenses, or banks issuing credit cards) and therefore the vast repositories of personal data that are vulnerable to abuse and misuse. Instead, identities will be owned by the individuals creating them.

Both are security and trust benefits. First, the Sovrin blockchain is used for identity verification and other purpose, it does not maintain repositories of personal data. Is based on open protocols and standards and runs on open source software, its promoters claim that it is owned by no one. This is supported by its nonprofit governance structure (the key to which is the nondistribution constraint; It is argued that these arrangements closely resemble those underpinning the internet and, more specifically, the Domain name system.

"Stewards" – the source of trust

At the core of the network are "stewards" who, as the peers in the network, are trusted by each other and ascertain the credentials of an individual. Individuals interacting (commercially or otherwise) with stewards can create an identity for each relationship. Who can verify the existence of the relationship?

As with most systems, the effectiveness of the Sovrin – or any other – blockchain-based identity system will be contingent upon having a sufficient number of users. These include the individuals whose identities are in question, issuers, and transactors to verify individuals' identities. It will also need to be financially sustainable. If the system has no owners, then it has no one providing financial backing. Either fees will have to be charged or some other means devised to recover operating costs. However, using existing payment systems needs to be eliminated.

Token payments

Hence, Sovrin proposes a token system (effectively a currency) that reward the various parties. The token is fundamental to turning into a digital marketplace for trust.

As trust is valuable, anything that can become a measure of trust can be exchanged for a token of value. In the transacting with them. Benefits accrued to both the individual and the verifier; hence, both will be willing to pay the issuer. In some cases, the verifier may also be willing to pay the identity of the owner directly (e.g., by way of a discount or tokens if identity can be verified). It is an incentive to realize that value (and earn tokens) by helping to build trust with others. Emerges from a credential quality and cost. A network of two-sided markets, that competition may include the use of tokens to subsidize the "side" of the market that best facilitates rapid issuer growth.

Why would a mobile operator join?

Why, then, would a mobile operator like Spark join Sovrin? "For example, your mobile carrier could help you rehearse your location at any point in time – and be paid for it." Notably, Spark appears (so far) to be the only telecommunications provider among Sovrin's forty-odd stewards. (The rest are predominantly banks, other financial institutions, and software laboratories, but the list also includes a university and a research institute.)

While smartphones have GPS capabilities, and information can be shared with others However, your mobile carrier knows your phone's location precisely, as it is required to deliver the service. Hypothetically, you could ask for a high-value transaction. As Sovrin says, "You get convenience, the verifier gets assurance, the carrier gets new revenue – everybody wins."

For business alumni and for verifiable claims to solve the problem of changing address records.

Selling identity or selling data?

At first glance, it may seem that the business case is predicated on revenue from selling data. However, as a decentralized system, we support the individual members providing services rather than the system owners. It also treads new ground by enabling markets to develop the provision and verification of identity data.

It is too soon to predict how this might evolve. However, the Sovrin example illustrates that real applications are being used using blockchain technologies, and they are going to challenge our thinking about how value is created and traded in a digital economy.

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