The Power of Verifiable Credentials

Verifiable Credentials (VCs) are a transformational development in digital trust:

For the first time ever, data from one ecosystem can be instantly authenticated in any other,
online or off, without a direct connection to the source.

And that changes everything.

Issue-Hold-Verify... in Cyberspace

Authentication of physical things uses an Issue-Hold-Verify model:

A passport office issues a passport, which you carry until presenting it somewhere for verification.

The passport office is the “Issuer”, you are the “Holder”, the person (or thing) you present it to is the “Verifier”.

But issue-hold-verify has not been possible in cyberspace, so usernames and passwords proliferate, one for each digital ecosystem we participate in.

With VCs we can finally use issue-hold-verify between digital ecosystems, making it possible for data issued in one ecosystem to be strongly authenticatable in any other, online or off. This means we can finally have digital passports, licenses, certifications, and much more, and begin to eliminate those troublesome usernames and passwords.

While digital identity is an easy-to-understand example of the issue-hold-verify concept, VCs can make any data portable between ecosystems, without the need for traditional integrations or APIs to source data.

(Learn more about VC basics from Microsoft, IBM, Evernym, and our CEO.)

A New Era in Digital Trust

When data from one ecosystem is provably authentic in any other, the applications are limitless, and internet scale.

Used alone or in combination with traditional techniques, VCs can reduce or eliminate:

  • Identity theft, phishing, account takeover
  • Spam, robocalls, “spoofing”, “smishing”
  • Counterfeiting, both digital and physical
  • Data breaches

And we can finally…

  • Eliminate usernames and passwords, and stop filling out forms
  • Carry authentic digital passports, licenses, achievements, and more
  • Reduce complex verification processes into near real-time events
  • Address fundamental cybersecurity issues
  • Protect digital privacy, give users control over data

“Give People Their Stuff”

Recent new privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA are aggressive, and there’s more on the way. A common thread among these—and older ones, like HIPAA—is recognition of an individual’s rights over data that relates to them, and attempts to give greater control over expressing these rights.

VCs provide a powerful new means of expressing this control by enabling people to literally take custody of authentic data, or exert control over it where it resides. VCs can help satisfy not only the letter of these strong privacy regulations, but the spirit, too.

The Unlimited Global Upside of VCs

Before long, every organization will need to issue, hold, and verify VCs to engage in digital interactions that require trust. The TAM (Total Addressable Market) is literally every operating organization.

Globally, organizations large and small from many industries are beginning to recognize, develop, and implement VC technology…

Industries Adopting VCs

GovernmentEU Identity Wallet (all of European Union)German governmentCanadian GovernmentUS Dept. of Homeland SecurityUS Customs and Border PatrolBritish ColumbiaFinland/NordicsLatin America/CarribbeanNetherlands Ministry of Justice

Big TechMicrosoftIBMWorkdayDeloitteLGIEEE

Travel: International Air Travel Association (32 airlines so far), World Economic Forum

EducationT3 Innovation Network (US Chamber of Commerce Foundation), Digital Credentials Consortium (members include Harvard, MIT, Georgia Tech, more), ASU

Supply ChainGS1 (bar codes, QR codes), World Economic Forum

Financial: Credit Unions, GLEIF (Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation)

HealthcareVCI (400 organizations), NHSLumedic


A global digital transformation has been underway for more than twenty years, but lacking a solution to the problem of digital trust.
VCs and related key management technologies are providing that solution, and are now being adopted worldwide.

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