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Is SSI the Disruptor for a Better World?

Is SSI the disruptor and if yes, what’s the most important aspect? Here’s Adrian Doerk sharing this thoughts with Affinidi
Nov 15, 2021

The recent EU announcement about having a digital wallet for all its citizens has given fresh impetus to the world of decentralization and Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI).

In this context, we caught up with Adrian Doerk (popularly known as the SSI Ambassador), the Product Manager and Marketing Lead of Lissi, and the Communication and Public Relations Head at IDunion. This multifaceted personality who owns many hats, talks about the future of SSI, with a focus on the EU.

Here are some excerpts from this interview.

Is SSI going to be big in the coming years? If yes, why?

There is a big need for solutions to enable trusted interactions, especially when it comes to identification and authentication. It all stems from the fact that the Internet was never designed for identities of individuals in the first place. Though we have standards and protocols for transactions, these are not constructed to enable the average user control of his or her digital identity without depending on a single third party.

Even with the existing standards and technologies, there are limits. This is most evident from the countless cyberattacks that happen so often.

Hence, there is a need for trusted interactions. In particular institutions, the government, and public stakeholders believe these trusted interactions are crucial for a functioning society.

At the heart of it all is an innate need to safely identify and authenticate oneself in the online world. As of now, this need has not been met.

SSI can fulfill these requirements as it supports the safe and trusted issuance and presentation of credentials among different entities, and this is why SSI can be big in the coming years.

Are we ready as a society to embrace SSI, in terms of the necessary technologies and infrastructure?

Yes and no!

We’re ready in terms of baseline infrastructure, but when it comes to the nitty-gritty non-technical details such as liabilities and governance, we still have a long way to go.

As far as the technical infrastructure goes, yes we are right on track to move forward. Though there are some technical aspects that we need to address for SSI to become more widespread.

Europe is one of the frontrunners in the SSI space, especially after the digital wallet announcement. How will it impact life in Europe?

It will take some time for this identity wallet regulation to come into effect and we will know more about the specifications for the identity wallet in the next few months or so. Undoubtedly, it is ambitious and can have a far-reaching impact.

What will be the accelerator(s) for SSI?

It needs to be a combination of government legislation, ecosystem, and startups in the SSI space. All these stakeholders are key for the acceleration of the ecosystem.

You obviously need the government’s support as nothing moves without it. Community is also very important for sharing problems and use-cases and eventually, using them to create an ecosystem.

So, all the stakeholders must come together to serve the community backed by the government’s support in terms of funding and legislation.

If you have to pick one accelerator, what would be right at the top of your list?

The ecosystem.

What, according to you, is the best way to store and manage verifiable credentials?

Storing verifiable credentials on the blockchain is a terrible idea, so I hope nobody even thinks of it!

A wallet provides a user interface and helps users to manage keys and use them for interacting with other parties. Currently, wallets work well on mobile devices, which means data is stored locally on smartphones.

But at some point, we need to move to desktop devices and browsers, and this would necessitate developers and companies to start thinking about where the data should be stored. Again, this would be a wallet-specific implementation that would depend to a large extent on the use-case and the expectations and actions of users.

For example, a tech-savvy user might want to decide whether he/she wants to store the data on the mobile device or on any other device owned by the user. However, it can also be stored in encrypted storage on the cloud.

On the other hand, some users might not care so much about where it is stored as long as they can share it in a safe and secure way. Such users may opt for a wallet service, which is fine too because not everyone is tech-savvy enough to choose their place of storage and ensure a high availability of a local backup.

In all, we need different solutions for different people to store and manage verifiable credentials.

As a startup in Europe, what are some things that you’d do in the next two years?

It depends on the product and the current state of the company. I would help companies and partners to understand what we are building, so they can offer it to their end customers in such a way that it benefits them greatly. At the same time, every stakeholder must understand what the technology is about and why they should use it.

This is easier said than done because SSI is a complex technology. So, my focus would be on helping companies to create SSI-based solutions and do everything they can to disseminate information about this technology in a way that everyone can understand.

This leads to the next question — What would you do to Create Awareness on SSI?

A good way is to use content to explain complex technologies with concepts people are familiar with. In particular, this approach can help people who are new to this industry to get a hang of SSI and the principles and components that drive it.

With all these coming together, what changes do you anticipate in the next 3–5 years?

To be honest, not a whole lot. I don’t foresee a huge societal shift and definitely nothing as impactful as say, the introduction of smartphones.

What will change is that there will be a greater need to control identities and manage them, and this should make it easy for organizations to offer the concept of SSI to the general public.

With a growing availability of use cases from different verticals we will see an increased usage of it in the daily life of average people. However, while the public might like the new way of interacting with third parties on the internet a lot of people probably rather say: “That was long overdue” instead of “This will change everything”.

We signed off on this note!

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Note: opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

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