Blockchain, for the better part of the last two to three years, has been top of mind for many businesses and industries. The promise of the technology has created this burgeoning desire to adopt and explore blockchain fit, maybe in some cases, force fitting use cases to the technology.

When I think about the most appropriate use cases for blockchain, one comes to mind: decentralized identity (supply chain, asset provenance, etc are others).

Although decentralized is a very new concept for many, it brings how we’ve exchanged identity for over hundreds of years to the digital world. The confluence of a community driven effort, standards, interoperability, blockchain, and other key components enable point to point exchanges of identity online — just like we’ve been doing for many years in the physical world.

Design lead conversations into PoCs

For the earlier parts of 2018, the IBM Blockchain Trusted Identity team did a lot of evangelism and community education, using our IBM Design led methodology. This is where clients dissect business problems over a two day period to help define a scoped solution. More and more, we are seeing decentralized identity being a fundamental driver for businesses wanting to transform how they interact with employees, partners, and clients in the coming future.

As we studied real use cases with real clients, some of these design workshops led to proof of concepts (PoCs) as we entered the latter part of 2018. Working with the community, such as Sovrin, Evernym, and others, we were able to bring like-minded folks to the table to create an ecosystem approach to show the power of decentralized identity. None of which is a better exemplar than the work coined Jobs-Creds.

JobCreds Proof of Concept

Decentralized Identity at THINK

At THINK, our team and our clients will continue to share use cases embedding decentralized identity across various industries such as government, finance, media and entertainment. THINK will also serve as an early view into the products IBM Blockchain Trusted Identity is developing for enterprises, based on Hyperledger Indy.

Use Cases covered in sessions

The community has come together in defining standards and interoperability to lay the foundation of where decentralized identity is going. As part of this, business, legal, and technical need to come together. A few clients and community members will share their experiences in this session.

In finance and banking, credit unions are creating decentralized identity governance frameworks to enhance end user experience, streamline processes, and reduce risk associated with fraud. CULedger will discuss how decentralized identity is transforming credit union experiences.

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In the music industry, we are working with a popular singer/songwriter, 2 time Grammy Award Winner, and technologist based in the UK, Imogen Heap, to enable independent artists to establish relationships with fellow, peer musicians through a web of trust, backed by decentralized identity.

SecureKey and IBM will present and demonstrate this ecosystem approach to the identity problem and explain why so many trusted organizations have come on board to solve this challenge together.

You can add these sessions to your agenda.

Interactive demo

In collaboration with IBM Security, we will be showcasing an interactive demo using IBM Blockchain Trusted Identity products. As we consider the evolution of traditional Identity and Access Management (IAM), decentralized identity provides a more secure module/authentication handler plugin through a cryptographic exchange of verifiable credentials.

In the world of decentralized identity, digital credentials need to be stored and managed in cloud agents (think of these as components that create a “digital wallet”). Every entity or person using decentralized identity will have their own cloud agent. There will be billons of cloud agents, purposed to exchange identity peer to peer, controlled by the end user through browser or mobile edge enabled devices. A true peer to peer exchange of credentials is unlocked when cloud agents serve as proxies on behalf of entities when transacting. Issuers issue credentials to holders. Holders present credentials to verifiers. Verifiers never “call back” to issuers but instead leverage blockchain as the root of trust through a web of trust.

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Example decentralized topology for Issuers, Verifiers, and Holder/Data Subjects

From an enterprise perspective, enterprises need to manage cloud agent infrastructure as part of a business process workflow. Developers and IT Ops within the enterprises, will need APIs to build these applications and manage the identity infrastructure required for decentralized identity adoption with monitoring and health check capabilities.

The interactive demo at THINK will allow users to request a San Fransokyo (the fictitious city in Disney’s Big Hero 6) digital government credential, stored in their personal cloud agent. As users request for a San Fransokyo digital government credential, backend APIs are invoked to create a cloud agent environment for each user as part of a business process workflow for issuing identity. Users will use this credential to prove who they are as they apply for a car loan with Big Blue Bank (a bank entity created for this interactive demo) and will manage their credentials and relationship connections using a browser based wallet.

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Issuer, Holder, and Verifier business process workflow exchange of decentralized identity

For those that are interested in the interactive demo before THINK, you can find it here and give it a try.

Join our sessions and visit us in the IBM Blockchain Booth (Cloud Campus, Booth #535, Desk 4) and the IBM Security Booth (Security Campus, Booth#17) in the Expo Hall to interact with us and learn more about what we are showcasing this year at THINK.

We are really excited to share the progress made by the community and our team with decentralized identity at THINK.

As always, connect with me on twitter to continue the conversation.

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