How Verifiable Credentials Bridge Trust Domains

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.

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

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  • Cumbersome forms and onboarding processes
  • Verbally authenticating when calling a service center, and re-authenticating when being transferred
  • Waiting for agreements to be signed or consent to be given
  • Waiting for any kind of application to be approved
  • Slow verifications of any kind of documents, records
  • Many slow and/or tedious processes that rely on verifications

How VCs Bridge Trust Domains

This post already assumes a basic understanding of how VCs work, but at the risk of being redundant, I want readers to understand, mechanically, how VCs bridge trust domains.

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  1. You offer/accept connections to/from other people, organizations, or things using QR codes or other means of bootstrapping. These are peer-to-peer relationships that you now own and control, and not through some platform or company where they could be seen, controlled, or taken away from you.
  2. When VCs are offered to you by your connections, you choose whether to accept them into your wallet. When you do, you’re now a “holder.” An entity who gives you a VC, whether person, organization, or thing, is called an “issuer.”
  3. When you want to prove something to someone, or share verifiable data, you must first connect with them (#2) then you can share one or more of your VCs. You can also share a subset of data from a VC and not the whole thing, or just proof that you have a VC, or a compound proof from multiple VCs.
  4. In seconds, verifiers can verify four things about what you’ve shared:
  • It was issued to you and not someone else
  • It hasn’t been tampered with
  • It hasn’t been revoked by the issuer

The Vast Potential of Verifiable Credentials

CREDIT: Evernym, Inc.
  • No more forms, quick and easy onboarding everywhere
  • No more verbal authentication, you’re recognized everywhere you choose to be
  • Instant, digital, multi-party consent (after waiting for slow humans to decide something)
  • Instant application approvals
  • Instant verifications of documents, records
  • The efficient exchange of any trusted information

In Conclusion

The current inability for data to efficiently traverse trust domains bears a striking resemblance to global trade complexities prior to 1956; Verifiable Credentials bear a striking resemblance to its revolutionary solution, the shipping container.

GP, Digital Trust Ventures