Last summer I published a 3-part series about the similarities between verifiable credentials (VCs) and physical shipping containers:

Part 1: Verifiable Credentials Aren’t Credentials. They’re Containers.

Part 2: Like Shipping Containers, Verifiable Credentials Will Economically Transform the World

Part 3: How Verifiable Credentials Bridge Trust Domains

The similarities have only become more apparent, and important, now that VCs are rapidly growing in global adoption. So it’s time for an update, including some history behind the VC name and why “verifiable” is also problematic.

It can be found at my new blog location: https://credentialmaster.com/verifiable-credentials-arent-credentials-theyre-containers/


SSI and verifiable credentials (VCs) have spawned hundreds of startups and significant initiatives within Microsoft, IBM, Workday, Samsung, Deutsche Telekom, the entire EU, the U.S. Government, the global credit union industry, 40+ airlines, hundreds of healthcare organizations, GLEIF (international financial regulator), GS1 (global standards body for QR and bar codes), and more.

How do the various types of products and services fit together?

Which are complementary, and which are competitive?

Should the services from provider A work with those from provider B?

Will you still need provider B if you have provider A?

Without naming specific providers, “The VC Stack”…


On June 3, 2021 a significant thing happened for SSI (self-sovereign identity): The European Union announced a plan for an EU-wide digital wallet that would support drivers licenses, tax filings, opening bank accounts, prescriptions, academic achievements, seamless travel experiences and proving one’s age to enter a nightclub, among many other possibilities.*

It’s easily the biggest thing to ever happen to SSI, and arguably the biggest to ever happen to identity generally, digital or otherwise.

Read more at my new blog location, here: https://credentialmaster.com/the-eu-announcement-is-the-biggest-ever-in-ssi/


Part 2 of 2: ID Is Only the Beginning.

Achievements, Skills, & Competencies

For many working with SSI and VCs, exchanging achievements is the top-of-mind use case. By achievements, I mean any kind: diplomas, degrees, certificates, skills, skill shapes, competencies, badges, milestones, grades, awards, commendations, micro-credentials, incremental achievements, and others.

Students will eventually share their achievements in pursuit of a job, but they also may want to transfer between schools, or reverse transfer credits from their current school to a former one. …


Part 1 of 2: Strong, flexible, digital student ID that’s not bound to your campus, network, or vendor.

Full Disclosure: The benefits discussed here apply to self-sovereign student ID generally and are not specific to any vendor or product, and do not result in vendor lock-in; any standards-compliant SSI tools for issuance, holding, and verification could deliver these results. I am the co-founder and CEO of Credential Master, and co-creator of the first self-sovereign student ID product, StudentPass.

TL;DR:

  • Digital student ID: doesn’t exist yet for most students.
  • Self-sovereign student ID is a breakthrough: students independently store verifiable data and strongly…


CREDIT: © DAVID NOTON PHOTOGRAPHY / ALAMY/DAVID NOTON PHOTOGRAPHY / ALAMY

This is part 3 of a 3-part series:

Part 1: Verifiable Credentials Aren’t Credentials. They’re Containers.

Part 2: Like Shipping Containers, Verifiable Credentials Will Economically Transform the World

Part 3: How Verifiable Credentials Bridge Trust Domains

TL;DR:

  • Most organizations aren’t digitally connected to one another, creating “trust domain” barriers that are slow, manual, and expensive to traverse.
  • Similar to shipping containers, Verifiable Credentials (VCs) can bridge trust domains between and within organizations, by using you as their courier.
  • The potential ramifications of transitive trust with rapid verifiability are endless, when boundaries between trust domains from many of today’s friction-filled interactions all but disappear.

The Barriers VCs Can Bridge: Trust Domains


Large container ship carrying many shipping containers
https://www.atclogistic.net/service/

This is part 2 of a 3-part series:

Part 1: Verifiable Credentials Aren’t Credentials. They’re Containers.

Part 2: Like Shipping Containers, Verifiable Credentials Will Economically Transform the World

Part 3: How Verifiable Credentials Bridge Trust Domains

TL;DR:

  • Verifiable Credentials (VCs) aren’t just functionally similar to shipping containers, they are economically similar as well, and will bring an explosion in global digital trade like shipping containers brought for global physical trade. The right container at the right time can change the world, dramatically.
  • Shipping containers caused a precipitous drop in shipping costs (over 95%) by bridging the physical contexts between ships, trains, and trucks; VCs can deliver a similar cost…


Stack of three shipping containers of different colors

This is part 1 of a 3-part series:

Part 1: Verifiable Credentials Aren’t Credentials. They’re Containers.

Part 2: Like Shipping Containers, Verifiable Credentials Will Economically Transform the World

Part 3: How Verifiable Credentials Bridge Trust Domains

TL;DR:

  • Verifiable Credentials (VCs) aren’t actually credentials, they’re containers, like shipping containers for data.
  • Having containers inside of containers is a feature, not a bug.
  • Like physical credentials, the VC container is always verifiable, not its data payload.

The Credential That Isn’t


After possibly thousands of conversations about SSI over the last five years, I’ve tried just about everything to help people quickly understand it. Early on it would take hours. Seriously. We just didn’t have the terminology or the useful analogies or frankly, the understanding, to be more concise. Then it was sixty minutes, then thirty, and now it’s plateaued at about five. Five minutes for someone to really grok SSI, which is about four minutes and fifty seconds longer than the ideal.

And I’ve tried — and my team at Evernym tried — many different approaches. Even with a bad…


Dispelling misunderstandings around SSI (Part 1 of 2)

Image by David Travis on Unsplash

Here are seven myths of SSI that I repeatedly hear and will address across two posts. Myths 1–3 will be discussed here, myths 4–7 here.

  1. Self-sovereign means self-attested.
  2. SSI attempts to reduce government’s power over an identity owner.
  3. SSI creates a national or “universal ID” credential.
  4. SSI gives absolute control over identity.
  5. There’s a “main” issuer of credentials.
  6. There’s a built-in method of authenticating.
  7. User-centric identity is the same as SSI.

Note: readers should have a basic understanding of how SSI works before reading this. …

Timothy Ruff

GP, Digital Trust Ventures

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