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AMA Highlights: KILT Protocol

By Daniel Dal Bello, Director.
January 19, 2022–9 min read.

On Tuesday 18 January, we welcomed Ingo Ruebe of KILT Protocol into the Hillrise Group Telegram chat for an AMA about self-sovereign identity and verifiable credentials for Web3.

Identity on the blockchain has been a difficult puzzle to solve, names have come and gone while KILT has survived the test of time.

Founded in 2018, KILT has built a blockchain protocol within the Polkadot ecosystem for issuing self-sovereign, anonymous, and revocable verifiable credentials and decentralized identifiers.

In this post, we have compiled key questions and answers from the event.

Daniel Dal Bello
Hi Ingo and welcome to our chat room. It’s been a long time since we have spoken together and the first time here for an AMA.

Firstly, can you please introduce yourself and your project — KILT Protocol?

Ingo Ruebe
Hi I am Ingo. I am the Founder of KILT Protocol and the CEO of BOTLabs GmbH, the company that initially developed KILT Protocol.

Before that I was CTO of Hubert Burda Media, a big publishing house here in Germany. I was also Project Director at Axel Springer some years ago.

I am one of the founding members of the International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications and I served on the Board of Directors of the Drupal Association.

KILT is a decentralized blockchain identity protocol for issuing self-sovereign, anonymous and verifiable credentials. KILT’s mission is to return control over personal data to its owner, restoring privacy to the individual. Developers can use KILT’s open-source Javascript SDK to quickly build applications for issuing, holding and verifying credentials and create businesses around identity and privacy.

Daniel Dal Bello
Your vision is to be the established provider of ‘Credentials for Web3’ by creating a trust market.

Before talking about the details of that position, I would like to hear your thoughts and motivations for pursuing this direction.

We have seen prominent names in self-sovereign identity powered by blockchain struggle in the past.

What makes your vision and team uniquely equipped to succeed in this difficult niche?

Ingo Ruebe
Well first of all we looked into this niche because it is actually very much needed. Identity covers an immense market and is a perfect use case for blockchains.

Earlier projects might have failed not because they did bad software, but possibly because they were too early in the market. I think the timing is much better now. We had to wait for standardization of DIDs and Verifiable Credentials first.

Daniel Dal Bello
The timing point makes sense, what do you mean about standardization, if you can explain a bit more?

Ingo Ruebe
When you for example look at Uport. This was a great project with great people behind. But they were alone. You cannot change the world as a startup — you need partners. This is why we formed the DIF. There are more than 200 companies in there agreeing on how to be compatible with their DIDs and credentials. This standardization produces the necessary power to compete with big companies.

Daniel Dal Bello
Congratulations on your win of the Kusama Parachain Auction last year.

Lately we have seen much debate and something of a layer-1 season, with many infrastructure projects experiencing immense growth and network effects.

What were the main considerations for you in choosing the Polkadot ecosystem and do you think Polkadot is still the right choice?

Ingo Ruebe
In the first place we chose Polkadot for the technology. It was one of the two frameworks out there for building blockchains. On the way we noticed that there is a great and very innovative and very intelligent community. There is a real spirit of decentralization inside the projects. We feel very much at home in the Polkadot community.

Daniel Dal Bello
When it comes to the theory underpinning your project, the concepts are sound.

We can understand that large siloed data in centralized hands is not favorable, but it is also a challenge to convince the everyday person to actually care enough to change their behavior and look to your solution.

We’re all busy running around in our daily lives, how do you pitch the concept to the average person and go about user acquisition for the ‘product’?

Ingo Ruebe
Well the product KILT blockchain should rather target developers. Those developers develop products which are then used by the average person. Attracting the average person is done by delivering great products on top of the blockchain. I think convenience is the key to success. This is why projects like SocialKYC focus very much on user experience and put the blockchain in the background.

People don’t care about the infrastructure and they don’t want to be bothered by it. They want a cool product. This is where we have to focus when we face the end-user.

Daniel Dal Bello
Can you talk to us about your SocialKYC product? How do you plan to grow this product and how is it useful?

Ingo Ruebe
SocialKYC is a decentralized identity service for regaining control over your digital data that is built on KILT Protocol. It’s very useful for getting access to the virtual bar we just talked about. In general there are many cases in the digital world where you want to know who you’re dealing with. If money is involved you will turn to a government type KYC.

But if you play an online game with someone from another country and you’re afraid that this guy is going to cheat, a KYC won’t help you. You need to know who this person is on the internet. If you know his Twitter and Discord account, you can warn other people if he cheats you. This is much more powerful than trying to send the police to his home address.

Rowan Zwiers
This does make sense to me, I would say there are several routes for such identification to shows its value.

The identification tool can be made mandatory by game/service providers, automatically bringing the protection to all their users. Users can be made aware of the identification option and given the option to request identification before interaction.

Could you elaborate on your strategic route on how such identification in the digital world would become more adopted in the future?

Ingo Ruebe
I think the only way to do this is co-operating with players in this field. We have started some: GameDAO and Attarius Network for example.

Tim Freund
Hello Ingo, I had seen a video of you with an AntiCov app designed by Kilt, found it very interesting. Does the project still exist in this direction?

Ingo Ruebe
Great question. We pitched it to the German government in 2020. They said it would not be ethical to divide people in vaccinated and not vaccinated and rejected it. This was very frustrating. The product is still there. If anyone wants to pick it up and has the resources to pitch it to governments, I’m more than happy to share the sources.

Daniel Dal Bello
Very curious about this one. I see one of the biggest challenges lying with the Attesters. This group is the most important participant in your ecosystem in my opinion.

These highly trusted and ‘valuable’ Attesters will drive the value in your credentials.

For example, the motor department that issues driver licenses in some jurisdiction would be a hugely valuable Attester in your network. In my work experience, I’ve dealt with these organizations — slow and inefficient are just a couple words I can think of to describe them.

How will you be able to scale and onboard high-impact Attesters to the network? Or maybe this is more hands-off and a challenge for developers?

Ingo Ruebe
Actually I don’t believe that organisations like motor departments will be the high impact Attesters. The movement into a decentralised world will never be led by governments and government organisations. It will always be led by technology savvy people like gamers and builders. From there it moves into bigger circles and at one point governments can’t ignore it anymore.

Daniel Dal Bello
Well, I guess by extension what I am asking is something like this… I know you have spoken about the bar example, and the bouncer wanting to know you are a certain age.

So in practice how do you get to a place where Verifiers (bouncer) place value on my KILT credential and let me inside? It’s more of a general acceptance/adoption question.

In the traditional case the motor department would issue my driving license which is the typical format for proving your age, so I thought this would be the relevant Attester. That is what I mean by raising government organizations as being important, because they are a highly trusted party. You have spoken about how you can just write a credential down but it is the trust that gives it actual credence.

How do you make meaningful traction and reach a place where your KILT DIDs matter in the real world?

Ingo Ruebe
You should rather think in the direction of the digital world. If you enter a bar in the metaverse, do you really want to use your physical credentials? That would require a full KYC.

Daniel Dal Bello
Your token, the KILT Coin has now launched — congratulations. Can you talk us through the utility of KILT tokens?

As we understand it, you currently have three avenues for this — payment, on-chain, and staking utility.

Who are the participants in your token economy? You have Claimers, Attesters, Verifiers, Collators, Delegators — anyone else?

Ingo Ruebe
The list looks quite complete — of course lacking the voters.

Payment: facilitates Claimers paying Attesters for digital revocable credentials.

On-chain : Anchor credentials, trust hierarchies, DIDs and CTYPES.

Staking: Incentivises Collators and Delegators to maintain the network, and punishes misbehaving Collators by withholding rewards.

Later in the year when VCOs will be launched there will be another utility and of course new participants.

Tim Freund
The development and adaptation in the field of blockchain is massive and closely networked in Berlin and continues to grow rapidly. Do you see personnel problems in the developers and in the marketing area?

Ingo Ruebe
Great question. We have managed to set up a very stable team without any fluctuations. So we feel well. But of course we are always welcoming new talent to the team.

George Pagonis
I just had a question and I’m not sure if perhaps I misunderstood but in regards to verifying credentials I was with the understanding that it had real life purpose rather than just verifying my credentials in the metaverse.

I am trying to understand the real life value here for in-person situations.

Ingo Ruebe
We do digital identities because in the internet this is currently broken. When we establish a working system of digital identity in the internet it will also be able to resonate in the physical world. But digital is always first. This also applies to usecases like service identity and product identity when it’s products which are connected to the internet. This is where the industrial use cases come in.

Daniel Dal Bello
That helps me to understand a bit better also, thanks. It is more of a tail-end use case for physical as I understand, digital first.

Ingo Ruebe
Correct. While digital identity is owned by big companies, governments (and bars) cannot accept it. When it becomes decentralised and owned by the users, this becomes possible — but it always starts digital.

Angry Magpie
Curious about how to use SocialKYC in the metaverse also, the website states, “The service forgets about you after attesting your identity”.

Does that mean after using it somewhere in the digital world it is then destroyed and you have to go through the process of registering your identity again?

Could you please teach us a bit more about this?

Ingo Ruebe
Great question! SocialKYC forgets. It won’t be the next data silo. Of course the users still hold the credential in the Sporran [wallet], which is installed locally on their computer. Think of your physical wallet. You hold your credentials there — same thing with Sporran.

Daniel Dal Bello
What are some of the major milestones and efforts you are working on to kick off 2022?

Ingo Ruebe
The year 2022 is about adoption. We will soon have the official launch of SocialKYC and its first use cases. In Q1 we will also launch DIDsign. Later this year so rather in Q3-Q4 we will have VCOs live. You can see all our milestones and aims in our roadmap which we published yesterday.

Hillrise Group supports ambitious Web3 startups with early-stage venture capital and fundamental research.

KILT Protocol uses blockchain technology to represent digital identity without intermediaries.

Connect with Hillrise Group




Fundamental research arm of Hillrise Group. We bring simplicity to complex technology.

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Hillrise Group is a blockchain-native venture capital and consulting firm supporting emerging Web3 startups.

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