Using Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) Without a Digital Wallet

In SSI, most DID methods require you to have a digital identity wallet. Can you use DIDs without a wallet? Yes, you can! Read through how!
Nov 15, 2021

Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) are unique identifiers that enable entities to generate and control their identifiers in the digital world.

Within the SSI community, there are many known DID methods, but most of them require you to have a digital identity wallet 🔒, where you will keep a seed (private key) 🔑.

While this may sound convenient for many of us, it comes with its shortcomings as well.

Too Technical for New Users

Using digital wallets can be a hassle for someone who is trying them for the first time as they have to install the wallet software on their laptop or mobile. Furthermore, they have to go through the registration process, which will not be intuitive at all times.

Nature of Implementation

The other shortcoming from an implementation perspective is that issuers can’t issue a Verifiable Credential (VC) without knowing the holder’s DID, which until now, was stored only in a digital wallet. In other words, VCs can’t be issued without a wallet!

In short, digital wallets are not for everyone, still, they are an essential part of the VC issuance and storage process.

To enable everyone to get on the Web 3.0 bandwagon, we at Affinidi, decided to use some easy options that don’t require a digital wallet to store a DID.

Implementing DID Without a Wallet

Before we go into how you can use a DID without a wallet, let’s quickly understand why we need a private key in the first place.

The simple answer — to prove that you are the owner (holder) of the digital asset (Verifiable Credentials) in question.

So, how can you prove that you’re the owner without a private key?

Well, you would need

  • A unique id for your digital assets (VCs).
  • Proof that you are the owner of that unique id.

And how can you do both?

With two DID methods — did:email ✉️ and did:phone 📞

Since both email and phone numbers are currently being used in web 2.0 for authentication, it is a simple way to prove that you are the owner of a VC that has a unique DID. You will get an OTP(One Time Password, which mostly is just random characters) on your email/phone, and sending it back will prove your ownership.

Also, you will have the DID and will be able to get digital assets with this DID.

Advantages of DID Methods

The biggest advantage of this method is that it is universal and straightforward and provides the same experience for users as Web 2.0.

The other advantage is that users don’t have to install any additional software and this can work well for users of all technical knowledge and experience.

Also, issuers (service providers) can issue VCs to their existing clients (holders) without workarounds on how to get their holders’ DID.

Limitations of DID Methods

Of course, these DID methods have some limitations as well. The most important is that the holder has to reveal his or her email/phone number to strangers, and this could be a spot of bother from a privacy standpoint.

Overall though, these methods are a great alternative to digital wallets and can be a good starting point for newcomers to embrace the world of VCs and web 3.0.

To know about more such interesting things that we do at Affinidi, reach out to us on Discord, join our mailing list, and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Written by Denys Popov

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