Decentralized Identity
A Checklist for First-Time Buyers!

How do you pick a decentralized identity solution? This wonderful technology is so recent that information is not abundant.

For the past 5 years Tykn has been building decentralized identity solutions for world leading organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme or the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

We’ve noticed common questions and doubts from people coming to us inquiring about this tech. So in this article we compiled a checklist of essential information you need to know to make your evaluation process easier: is it the right fit for you? Build or buy? Common Pricing? What type of wallet to pick? And more!

Let’s dive in.

Do you need it?

What decentralized identity is great for:

  • If you want to verify users’ data (credentials, identity, documents, etc) without having to store their personally identifiable information in your systems. Verifiable Credentials are tamper-proof due to cryptography so you don’t need a copy of those credentials in your system to ensure they are authentic. The benefits of this:
  1. Instantly comply with privacy regulations and minimise the risk of hacking/breaches since you hold no PII.
  2. You give your users control (and a sense of control!) over their data. Which may be especially important in situations where sensitive personal information is involved.

Do you actually need to store your user’s data or is it something you do because there was no other way to do it?

  • In scenarios where credentials/documents have to be always verifiable by organisations whose systems are not connected. The IATA Travel Pass is a good example of this. Without Verifiable Credentials, organisations wanting to verify the credentials inside the Pass would have to integrate with each other. With VCs, due to their tamper-proof nature, dozens of Airlines can verify the covid test credentials without the need to integrate with the issuers of the tests. While being certain they are true.
  • If you want your users to be able to identify themselves before others in a way that is trustworthy beyond doubt and across platforms. We’re starting to see this come up often in scenarios where, during online interactions, users have to prove something about themselves to other users. Be it professional and academic credentials or background checks.

Questions to ponder

 

  • Do you need to collect a ton of sensitive personal information from your users? Are you worried about the security concerns of storing that data in your database?
  • Are you worried about the friction involved in having long forms to collect that info?
  • Are you worried about current or incoming privacy regulations in your market? Are you worried about meeting privacy regulations across multiple jurisdictions?
  • Do your customers need to share verified information from or with a 3rd party? Like in a marketplace ecosystem.
  • Do you believe that customers should have more control over their personal data?

 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, decentralized ID might be right for you. If not, you might be more suited for a centralized solution.

What type of wallet?

Verifiable Credentials need a wallet. The wallet is where a Prover, the user receiving a Credential, will store that credential. There are two types of wallets:

Mobile Wallets

Mobile Wallets, also known as Edge Wallets, store Verifiable Credentials on your mobile device. From a credential issuer’s perspective, the Mobile Wallet is the ideal option if they don’t want any Personal Identifiable Information stored on their servers or the cloud. All personal data is stored on the users’ mobile phones.

If you already have an app you can use an SDK that creates a decentralized identity wallet inside your app.

If you don’t have an app but would like your users to have an identity wallet, there are several “off-the-shelf” mobile wallet apps available.

Web Wallets

Some organisations don’t want to introduce the friction of having their users download an app. Web-based identity wallets allow companies to integrate VCs into their existing web-based journeys.

The users’ data, instead of being fully on the user’s device, is encrypted and stored in a personal vault in the cloud. Only the user can access the data and only the user can decide who to share it with. 

What type of wallet will suit you best?

Tykn's Web Wallet Example - Covid Test
Tykn's Web Wallet Example

Build or Buy?

First of all, do you have developers on your team?

Integrating Decentralized ID can be easy nowadays. 

If you have devs on your team, there are easy APIs you can call to integrate it with your current user journeys and Mobile SDKs to supercharge your own app with decentralized identity capabilities.

If you don’t have devs but want to start out, you’re sorted too. There are off-the-shelf Mobile Wallets that your users can download and Web Portals to issue credentials.

Plus, you can always reach out to the platform provider to know if they can implement customizations on your behalf. For example, we do whitelabeling and integration of 3rd party Identity and Document verification services. Others may too.

But…

If you’re planning on taking the DIY route, we need to let you know that Decentralized Identity is not the easiest of technologies to onboard developers on. There’s blockchain, cryptography, P2P Networking, Rust, and more. We estimate it takes at least 6 months to get a dev up to speed on it. We know because we’ve been there!

How much should you expect to pay?

We’ve encountered three different types of pricing models in the industry. Charging per wallet, charging per transaction or a combination of both.

Charging per wallet

Things to consider:

  • Is the company charging per active wallet or just per wallet? An active wallet means there has been issuance and/or verification of credentials in a given time window. If a company is charging you just for providing you with a certain number of wallets, whether they are active or not, you’re paying for wallets that are not generating value for your business.
  • What service is it being provided? Are you getting just the backend service or also the frontend for your users to interact with the wallet?

Charging per transaction

Things to consider:

  • Be careful on how a company defines a transaction. For some companies, a transaction could be an “issue request” (an issuance of a credential). In other cases, a company may be charging for all the API calls needed for that “issue request” to happen. Are you paying for the one request or for each of the necessary API calls to make the request happen? (these API calls are named DIDcomm calls).
  • Understand if a company charges for both issuing and verifying credentials. Some companies have free issuance of credentials and only charge per verification.

Combination of both

  • Sometimes a company might charge for a wallet and for any request/transaction. Be attentive to that.

If you require customizations, such as custom user journeys, integrations with Identity and Verification services and payment providers, the cost will be much higher. 

You can schedule a free consultation with our team. They’ll be happy to learn more about your specific needs and provide you with an estimate of costs.

Make a list and compare providers

Blockchain is sexy. Again. Whenever there’s hype there are newcomers in the space. Since 2016 we’ve seen startups pop up and disappear almost as fast.

Important questions we would ask to evaluate decentralized identity providers: 

  1. Do they have practical experience in the area? 
  2. Is their tech actually being used by real people?
  3. What is their credibility in the space?

Once you’ve ascertained their authority and picked several options, you need to ask yourself which one is the best solution for you.

  • Some Decentralized Identity providers are specialized in building enterprise solutions.
  • Others can provide you with the tech infrastructure but you need to build it yourself.
  • Tykn, for example, spent the last years developing several components (APIs, SDKs, Web and Mobile Wallets, etc) so that you can quickly integrate Decentralized ID into your product/service.

Lastly, we would ask for a demo or a consultation with their product team. This is such an innovative tech that we, as buyers, would like to discuss our organisation’s specific situation and try to understand if there is actually a fit.

Conclusion

We hope you’re now better equipped to evaluate what decentralized identity solution is best for you.

If you’re not quite sure yet, join us for a free consultation so that our team can better understand your needs and advise you on what options are best for your business.

Tykn decentralized identity system