Introducing Self-Sovereign Student ID

Part 2 of 2: ID Is Only the Beginning.

Achievements, Skills, & Competencies

  1. It gets schools familiar with working with VCs: issuing, verifying, and managing.
  2. It gets students familiar with using an SSI wallet: making connections, receiving VCs, sharing VCs, communicating, giving consent, etc.

The “Digital Experience”

Privileges, Perks, & Freebies

  • Freebies, discounts and special deals anywhere
  • Access to students-only facilities and events from multiple schools
  • Access to special loans, grants, scholarships and more

Communication & Interaction

Preventing Fraud & Phishing

Why Not Embed An SSI Wallet Into Your School’s Existing App?

We hear questions about “embedded wallets” a lot, and for good reason: your school has worked hard to get your official app into as many hands as possible, so adding functionality to it makes sense, whereas asking students to get another ‘app’ — even though an SSI wallet isn’t really an app — seems almost a non-starter.

What’s Ready Now?

What’s Ready

  • Code, Products, & Services — Open source code; VC-oriented products from Microsoft, Workday, IBM, and dozens of startups.
  • Compatibility With Existing Federated ID — CAS, Okta, Ping, ForgeRock, etc. for connecting with SAML, OAuth, OIDC and other federation protocols for passwordless login, KBA-free call-in, and cardless walk-in authentication.
  • Standards Work — W3C, Trust over IP Foundation, DIF
  • Custodial SolutionsTrusted Learner Network, Velocity Network Foundation
  • Broad Consensus About VCs — The Verifiable Credential is the only container I’m consistently seeing under consideration for transporting verifiable data between trust domains, which self-sovereign control and trust require, from academia to healthcare to finance and beyond.
  • Broad Consensus About Individual Control of Data — From academia to healthcare to Europe’s GDPR and the current disdain for big tech and surveillance capitalism, I see broad consensus that control over data must move more and more into the hands of individuals, even data not in their physical possession.
  • Momentum — Years of global open-source development and standards work for SSI; orgs large and small in many industries are actively participating in developing VC code, standards, use cases and business models; strong support from the T3 Innovation Network in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

What’s Not Ready (Yet)

  • User Experience — The SSI space knows the basics — issue, hold, and verify VCs — but does not yet have the UX figured out. Honestly, the existing SSI wallets I’ve seen are all still a bit clunky and confusing (even though it’s still a much better experience than passwords or answering personal questions), but they do work. Usability must be smoothed and complexity hidden, and access for the disabled, older devices, and more, has yet to be addressed.
  • Interoperability — Today, standards are ahead of implementations. All the players know the importance of interop but haven’t gotten there yet, though there are serious multi-org testing and development efforts underway to get it resolved. I like the alignment of incentives here: any vendor not interoperable with others will be left on its own technology island.
  • Communications — While these private, peer-to-peer connections can support any kind of communication, so far I’ve not seen anything other than simple messaging.
  • Passive Authentication — I look forward to the day when I can be authenticated by those I know and trust passively, by policy, by automatically sharing the appropriate proofs when prompted, without touching my device. As far as I know, only active authentication is now offered.
  • Embedded Agents in Door Access Readers — Another missing element is embedded SSI agents into NFC (or other tap technology) readers, to make door access compatible and performant.
  • Ancillary & Rainy Day Use Cases — Most new tech must first nail sunny day scenarios before tackling the rainy day ones. For example, VCs could be used for guardian relationships, children, pets, things, and complex organizational hierarchies, but those haven’t been done anywhere that I’m aware of. VCs could work off-line or from a QR code on a card or piece of paper, but no one has gone there yet either, to my knowledge.

Where to Begin

To get started with self-sovereign student ID, a school needs capabilities to issue and verify VCs, and students need wallets to hold them.

In Conclusion

For those interested primarily in achievements, ID is an “and” and not an “or,” and it should come first, as it lays a technical and familiarity foundation for achievements to be issued and quickly useful. Communications could come soon after ID, because it becomes available as soon as the first connection with a student is created.



GP, Digital Trust Ventures

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