SSI Essentials: 35 use cases of decentralized identities that will make your life easier
April 7th, 2022
It is not farfetched to assume that we all strive to perform routine activities in the most simple and efficient way. This can include relatively easy activities such as logging in to your student/employee portal and shopping online or slightly more complex activities such as opening a bank account, renting an apartment, or applying to a master’s program or job.
Our goal as users is to minimize the time spent on these and maximize our user experience when doing it, so we can get on with the rest of our day.
The common denominator behind these types of activities is authentication: they all ask users over and over again to verify they indeed are who they claim to be.
In current, traditional authentication methods that require identity validation, users will provide photo scans of their passports, utility bills, credit card statements, credit scores, etc. Now, imagine if all these documents could be officially digitized and stored in a single place on a user’s phone and shareable with any service provider who requests such information. These digitized, pre-verified, portable documents are called Verifiable Credentials (VCs).
VCs are the building blocks of Self-Sovereign Identity, a new authentication paradigm that solves these obstacles and unlocks new value for citizens, businesses, and governments, by powering users with identity credentials that instantly grant them access to all types of services both online and in-person (for a quick crash course on SSI, read this blog).
This post aims to illustrate the potential of SSI across various industries.
Top 10 sectors and their use cases in SSI
Governments are current pioneers of SSI technology as they play a principal role as regulators, issuers, and verifiers. Many governments worldwide have already developed eGovernment services but lack adoption due to bad user experience and slow processing times.
With SSI, these services are more efficient and easier to use. Governments can issue VCs for National IDs, passports, visas, work permits, and more. Citizens use these credentials to access services such as eVoting, personal taxes, registering a business, and other processes local governments may require, such as signing up for public health services.
Government VCs can be used for much more than public services use cases; national ID VCs are essential for the majority of authentication scenarios in the private sector as well. Additionally, the SSI eGov use cases are not limited to natural persons but can also be extended to legal entities.
Decentralized finance (DeFi)
SSI shares the same decentralization principles as DeFi, making it an ideal partner for identity verification quests. SSI eliminates the need to go through a KYC or registration process for every dApp.
The main SSI use case of DeFi is decentralized KYC for crypto/ICOs and instant, compliant, and secure onboarding into crypto/DeFi platforms.
Similarly, DeFi exchanges and dApps can play an issuer role by issuing KYC credentials to users who have passed through the KYC. Ideally, these KYC credentials would be reusable and portable to any service in Web3.
One of the major pain points in the financial services industry is the KYC process for new clients. SSI has the potential to revolutionize the financial industry’s KYC process through the use of VCs.
These provide users with the possibility to create a bank account in seconds, rather than submitting copies of identity documents (utility bills, passport, employee contracts) and waiting several hours, if not days, for the provider to verify their identity.
Financial service providers can also become issuers of credit scores, income statements, and bank account title VCs to enable instant credit/loan applications.
In many regions, patient healthcare data is scattered in sources and formats. SSI provides a new, more efficient & secure way of managing patient data and access to healthcare services. VCs of digital health credentials such as insurance cards, vaccination, or medical records pave the way for patients to have unified, globally recognized records in their hands and facilitate ePrescriptions, hospital onboarding, and virtual assistance.
The multiple stakeholders in the healthcare space (hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, health tech providers, etc.) can easily assume the role of the issuer and/or verifier as patients take back control of their data.
SSI plays an important role in the acceleration of smart city development. National ID, passport, driver’s license, proof of residency, student IDs, and other VCs can power a citizen’s journey throughout their city by streamlining secure ride sharing, vehicle rental, access to public transportation, sports facilities, and event check-ins, to name a few.
SSI empowers the digital citizen and enables smart cities to enjoy sustainable growth & impact.
Travel & hospitality
Having been one of the most heavily impacted industries by the pandemic, the travel and hospitality industry can leverage SSI to boost sector recovery.
Passports, visas, covid vaccination certificates, and loyalty cards are among the VCs that can streamline this sector’s activities, including but not limited to automatic airport security, fast airline check-in, and instant hotel check-in. The use cases for this sector are simple and straightforward yet high impact.
The process of renting, buying, and selling a property can be tedious and requires a lot of paperwork from all parties involved. Renters, buyers, and sellers often need to provide documents such as national IDs, proof of residency, income statements, and real estate deeds.
Issuing these as verifiable credentials can reduce these time-consuming processes to an instant while decreasing the chances of identity fraud. As a result of the optimized process, new opportunities in the market may arise, such as P2P buying/selling scenarios and secure building access.
Universities can be both issuers and verifiers for their communities. The higher education section is already implementing the use of academic diplomas, student ID, transcripts, certificates, and other micro-credential VCs to transform student & staff experiences and generate new opportunities for the entire ecosystem.
Instant student/staff onboarding, single IT access management, building access, Erasmus exchange & other application processes are the use cases that result from enabling stakeholders with verifiable credentials.
Students and staff can benefit from their academic VCs in the wider community. For example, they can use their student ID VC to access local student discounts in public transportation & services, shops, restaurants, and entertainment spots.
Employee card VCs issued by employers and other government-issued VCs can improve employee and worker experience when performing onboarding, building access, and IT (employee portal and other company systems) access processes.
However, the user experience benefits in the working ecosystem arrive before the user is hired. Citizens can leverage their academic and government-issued VCs to streamline job applications. At the same time, employers limit identity fraud.
eCommerce & retail
One of the major user pain points in eCommerce sites is keeping track of usernames and passwords. SSI completely eliminates these and instead relies on user VCs for identity verification to provide instant, hyper-secure onboarding & authentication.
E-commerce and retail stores can also upgrade client experience by issuing membership and loyalty card VCs, creating a stress-free customer journey.
Similarly, in P2P marketplaces, SSI technology help ensures buyers and sellers are who they claim to be and facilitates transactions in a simple, secure, and privacy-preserving manner.
As you can see, with SSI, the routine activities that rely so heavily on authentication, currently centralized and federated authentication systems, become a breeze to perform. It solves the user experience, security, and privacy challenges, for both users and organizations, that come with identity verification.
It rids each sector of inefficiencies and creates new opportunities for revenue and innovation. Its unlimited use cases leave no industry behind.
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