The concept of identity has evolved over time. Hundreds of years ago, there were simple formal or informal documents showing who we were or which were our names. Nowadays we have a world in which we use ID cards, cellphones with our medical information, passwords, driving licenses, ID passes to enter different buildings and offices, etc. However, the current system is certainly not efficient (data breaches, centralization of information, privacy issues, etc) and it may take years to change that.
There are currently several firms working on a wide range of solutions, including decentralized options for Self Sovereign Identities. Companies such as RIF or IBM are at the forefront of innovation in this market. Data is certainly one of the most valuable things we currently have and this is why is certainly important to think about new solutions on how to be the owners of our own data.
Understanding Identity Models
We can distinguish two different ways to handle identities. The first one is the centralized model while the second one is a decentralized model that works in opposition to the first one.
Centralized systems work with one entity, public or private, storing and providing identity information to users. However, a distributed system works with many different entities storing and providing identity information. Additionally, there are systems in which there is a limited number of entities that store and provide identity information to users and individuals. These systems are known as Federated systems.
Different Identity Programs Around the World
There is a wide range of programs and initiatives around the world that involved identity systems.
DigID – Netherlands
One of these programs is the one promoted by the Netherlands, which is funded by the government. This DigID authentication system provides data about Dutch residents that access government services online. The information about users is held in a registry the government built for citizens.
The DigID works with individuals using their username stored on the platform to authenticate their identity to government entities and other agencies.
Population Registry – Finland
This program is currently controlled by the government of Finland and it works as a database that transfers attributes to public and also private RPs. The goal is to use this information for tax filing judicial administration and more.
As the DigID program promoted by the Netherlands, this is a centralized system that involves data from individuals and identity information.
GSMA – Global Program – Mobile Connect
This is a distributed program compared to the previous ones that were centralized ones. This is a digital identity system that aims at authenticating users and individuals through their devices. This shows that there is an evolution in the way identity interacts with personal devices such as smartphones.
This would allow individuals to reduce the need to use usernames and passwords to access online services. They can simply have all the data store in one place.
RIF Directory – Argentina
The main goal of the RIF Directory project is to integrate excluded people into financial systems. This would help reduce poverty in one of the largest countries in Latin America.
By using identity data from people, they would be able to get access to credit, loans and traditional financial systems. At the same time, the system would allow users to take care of their privacy. The system (DIDI) would be launched on top of the RSK smart contract platform using RIF’s services allowing users to keep their data protected.
DIDI will work through a mobile platform that would allow citizens to have their identities stored digitally. Moreover, they will have the possibility to use it across a wide range of systems, platforms and even peers.
RIF Identity Services
RIF is working with its Directory product, which behaves as the identity and reputation layer for RIF services. This helps individuals and people to learn about services and share the information they want. All the information on Directory is verifiable and reliable.
For example, with the RIF Name Service (RNS), users will have ID, payment information and resources stored on any blockchain. This provides interoperability in the current market and makes it easier to expand its services to more platforms, firms and people.
By using Directory, it is possible to add an identity layer to entire ecosystems, not only in cryptocurrencies, but also in many other areas. This decentralized identity layer would allow parties to show verifiable claims about themselves and always taking care of their privacy.
There are several firms and companies working on a wide range of solutions in terms of Self Sovereign Identities. However, there are just a few companies that have presented real-world pilot programs that are already offering improvements to users and individuals in different countries.
RIF is working with a wide range of products that are already helping people located in slums and that do not have access to identity or financial systems. Furthermore, they are also pushing for more interoperability in the platforms that are currently using identity solutions.