Gravity, Tykn advancing interoperability of two decentralized identity solutions for the humanitarian sector

Gravity and Tykn are pleased to announce our continued collaboration to advance the interoperability of our two distinct decentralized identity solutions for improved identity management in the humanitarian sector. Recently, Gravity and Tykn successfully conducted an interoperability Proof of Concept between Gravity’s digital ID protocol built on Tezos blockchain and Tykn’s Cloud Wallet built on Sovrin blockchain within the context of the Dignified Identities in Cash Programming (DIGID) project.

The DIGID Project provides one of the first examples—if not the first!—of attempts at interoperability between two different decentralized identity technologies in the humanitarian context.

Credits: Gravity

To date, there have only been a few attempts at demonstrating interoperability within decentralized identity that we are aware of*. With our novel approach, Gravity and Tykn’s collaboration is an exciting first step towards achieving interoperability between different decentralized identity wallets based on two distinct protocols that leverage very different standards and networks.

To better explain the importance of interoperability of digital identity solutions within the humanitarian context, this article includes the following sections:

What is interoperability?

Interoperability refers to the basic ability of different systems (for example, the two decentralized identity protocols from Gravity and Tykn) to readily connect and exchange information with one another. In terms of decentralized identity, interoperability involves a scenario where Alice, who has a decentralized identity wallet based on protocol A can share credentials with Bob, who uses a wallet based on protocol B. With full interoperability, Bob can easily decrypt, read, and verify Alice’s credentials. Interoperability between different protocols is an important argument in favour of decentralized identity.

Why is interoperability important?

One of the key use cases envisioned for the use of decentralized identity in humanitarian aid is that NGO A can issue credentials to a beneficiary who can then easily share these credentials with NGO B. Interoperability allows NGOs A and B to use different decentralized identity protocols for issuance and verification, while still allowing a beneficiary to easily share credentials between the two organizations to gain access to different services. 

Interoperability is important because it reduces the risk of vendor lock-in and siloed data management solutions.

Credits: Gravity

Using a decentralized identity protocol with a high degree of interoperability may help mitigate risks arising from being dependent on a single vendor, both for humanitarian organizations and for beneficiaries receiving assistance. For example, decentralized identity solution Vendor A could experience a system-wide fault or suddenly cease activity. With siloed data management solutions, beneficiary data would all be lost in this scenario. However, with interoperable decentralized identity solutions, beneficiary data may still be available from decentralized identity solution Vendor B.

To date, there have only been a few attempts at demonstrating interoperability within decentralized identity. As such, the interoperability test conducted between Gravity and Tykn within the context of the DIGID project is one of the first of its kind that we are aware of.

What are the benefits of interoperability between decentralized ID solutions in the humanitarian sector?

Interoperability between decentralized ID solutions:

  • facilitates the implementation of multiple digital ID solutions with no vendor lock-in
  • removes inefficiencies and barriers present in current siloed beneficiary databases
  • increases collaboration within and among organizations working to support similar target populations
  • provides greater opportunities for market innovation within the digital ID space, driving digital ID market growth.

How are Gravity and Tykn addressing interoperability within the context of the DIGID Project?

Launched by a consortium of some of the largest international NGOs in the world, the DIGID Project aims to address the issue of lack of official or recognized identity for recipients of humanitarian assistance by piloting digital identity solutions in Kenya.

Credits: Gravity

This project strives to give control and ownership of personal data back to individuals, and at the same time increase collaboration between NGOs and their beneficiaries, with user consent as a key. 

Earlier this year, Gravity’s digital ID solution powered the DIGID Project with the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) to help vulnerable Kenyans without a proof of identity create digital identities on Gravity’s platform and access much-needed KRCS cash assistance. While the DIGID project leverages Gravity’s identity stack built on Tezos blockchain with beneficiaries creating Gravity identity wallets, the aim is to ensure that services that are at the intersection between Gravity’s ID platform and third-parties are also able to issue and read credentials from other decentralized identity protocols. 

For sustainability purposes, it is critical that any solutions that are built for the long term are as interoperable as possible. Thus, a key next step in the DIGID Project post-pilot phase following the creation of Gravity digital IDs for KRCS aid beneficiaries was to test interoperability between Gravity’s digital ID solution and another third-party solution (in this case, Tykn’s Cloud Wallet) to show how NGOs using different decentralized identity technologies could increase collaboration between humanitarian aid organizations and their beneficiaries. 

The interoperability proof of concept demonstrated how two NGOs can use different decentralized identity platforms to register and deliver assistance to the same set of beneficiaries. 

This is made possible by associating a beneficiary’s different Decentralized Identifiers (DIDs) with each other. This needs to be done because each DID is specific to the two different decentralized identity platforms being used. Allowing for these DIDs to be associated with one another means that NGOs can use both sets of DIDs and issue credentials to both decentralized identity platforms. This is useful because it allows NGOs to share data with each other and beneficiaries without having to agree on a common identifier (such as a phone number, national ID number or system generated ID number) that is needed to identify a beneficiary between two separate systems. 

Beyond this initial interoperability test within the context of the DIGID Project, Gravity and Tykn look forward to continuing to innovate together to make interoperability in the decentralized identity and humanitarian aid spaces possible for real-world use.

Gravity and Tykn are grateful to the DIGID consortium of international NGOs for making this interoperability test in the context of the DIGID Project possible.

*For example, a collaboration between two decentralized identity providers based on the Sovrin network allowed for interoperability between their respective digital identity wallets in the context of the Swiss pharmaceutical industry. Another example is an initiative to build a universal interface that allows for the verification of credentials issued using different decentralized identity protocols.