By Ankur Banerjee Chief Technology Officer at cheqd
In January 2022, at cheqd, we conducted a survey to find out what are the top five trends regarding privacy-preserving technology. To do this, we surveyed 114 individuals and organisations. We wanted to create a pool of data that spoke to all sectors of our market. And so, by contacting experts from a list of over 45 partners, as well as general outreach across all our media channels, we were able to create a microcosm of insight across all facets of our industry.
We have listed the top five key findings below:
1 – Maintaining privacy and control of their own data is of paramount importance to web users
An astonishing 68% of individuals believe they have limited to no control over their personal data, with many agreeing that Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), a new paradigm in portable and interoperable digital identity, which enables individuals to manage, transfer and ‘reuse’ their data, could be the solution over a five (or more) year time horizon. This doesn’t stop companies from repurposing mandatory data. But, it does make asking for fewer correlating data points the norm, giving the user control and the means for ensuring their personal data is “adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purpose for which they are processed”; in other words, data minimisation.
2 – The motivation for users and organisations where they want to use SSI are vastly different
There were different motivations from users and organisations for wanting SSI, as shown in our findings. Both personal data control and reducing compliance risk were key motivators for users and businesses on the uptake of SSI technology.
While over 70% of industry expert respondents claimed that reducing compliance risk and payment mechanisms for digital identity exchanges were both overwhelming key motivators for caring about SSI technology, 62.3% of user respondents were fundamentally interested in improving solutions for data privacy.
3- Privacy-preserving commercial models for digital identity exchange could radically accelerate SSI adoption
There is a clear consensus that the acceleration of SSI technology within society lies with the adoption of the service from a commercial level before it can benefit individual users. 70.3% of experts believed SSI adoption would be heightened by privacy-preserving payment mechanisms for identity exchange. However, the fundamental issue is achieving value exchange, ultimately creating incentives for both parties. One way around this is through the verifier-pays-holder model, whereby a charge is incurred for the use of an integral service such as a bank wanting to see a customer’s passport credentials. Over 30% of respondents believe this would have a large impact on SSI adoption at a commercial level.
4 – Identity is a foundational building block for DeFi and Web 3.0
When speaking with early adopters of Web 3.0 technology, one user claimed that “your reputation travels with you” in the digital space, meaning that due to its interoperable nature web 3.0 will need fast and accurate ways of confirming identity. The prevalence of people using pseudonyms online indicates a burgeoning desire amongst individuals to limit the amount of unnecessary information they are giving away; SSI provides a natural extension and realisation of this impetus.
5 – Healthcare, social media, and Government use cases lead the pack among “traditional” sectors where SSI can be applied
The COVID-19 pandemic created a necessity for ‘forced experiments’ that have accelerated an already fast adoption of digital services. Providing and proving a COVID-19 vaccination status or test results with a high level of trustworthiness showed us glaring holes in our authentication of individuals in the digital space. With self-sovereign digital credentials, it is possible to prevent the need for large database silos or having to rely on easily forgeable PDF files.
As the real and digital worlds continue to merge, it is clear to see that SSI technology can play an important role in resolving data and identity-related complexities around protection, ownership, and value creation for both individuals and organisations.
There is plenty more that could be extracted from the survey, which is a testament to our community and respondents for providing such thought-provoking insight. We will be releasing further blog posts, where we go into greater detail about trends in the Web 3.0/Cosmos ecosystems, and in the standards stack of self-sovereign identity.
The complete outline of our research, including a full conclusion can be found in our extended report; ‘Top 5 Trends in Decentralised Self-Sovereign Identity and Privacy-Preserving Technology in Web 3.0’.
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