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Techniques

Verifiable credentials

Oct 2020
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Credentials are everywhere in our lives and include passports, driver’s licenses and academic certificates. However, most digital credentials today are simple data records from information systems that are easy to modify and forge and often expose unnecessary information. In recent years, we've seen the continuous maturity of Verifiable Credentials solve this issue. The W3C standard defines it in a way that is cryptographically secure, privacy respecting and machine verifiable. The model puts credential holders at the center, which is similar to our experience when using physical credentials: users can put their verifiable credentials in their own digital wallets and show them to anyone at any time without the permission of the credentials’ issuer. This decentralized approach also enables users to better manage their own information and selectively disclose certain information and greatly improves data privacy protection. For example, powered by zero-knowledge proof technology, you can construct a verifiable credential to prove that you are an adult without revealing your birthday. The community has developed many use cases around verifiable credentials. We've implemented our own COVID health certification with reference to the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative (CCI). Although verifiable credentials don't rely on blockchain technology or decentralized identity, this technique often works with DID in practice and uses blockchain as a verifiable data registry. Many decentralized identity frameworks are also embedded with verifiable credentials.