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Decentralized Identity and Verifiable Credentials

Authors

Gary Rowe – CEO, Principal Consulting Analyst

Doug Simmons – Principal Consulting Analyst

Gary Zimmerman – CMO, Principal Consulting Analyst

Phil Windley, PHD – Principal Consulting Analyst

Abstract

The concepts of Decentralized Identity started with User-Centric Identity over 20 years ago and the basic concepts still resonate with those looking to control their digital experience. That said, we’ve covered this space for the last 5 years (Blockchain Identity – 2016, Identity is the New Perimeter – 2017, Decentralized Identity — 2019) and it is still “emerging”. This report analyzes why is it still emerging and what needs to happen to achieve more widespread adoption. We start with an update on the current state of Decentralized Identity and the related area of verifiable credentials.

This space is truly disruptive; traditional trust models based on the assumption that “the possession and presentation of credentials equals entitlement” are no longer sufficient, and approaches such as the Trust over IP (ToIP) model are emerging leveraging Decentralized Identity and verifiable credentials. As we began this update to our research on this topic, we are focused on answering these questions:

  • Are Decentralized Identity services built on blockchain and leveraging verifiable credentials truly a better model?
  • How should our enterprise clients factor these nascent technologies into their strategies and roadmaps?

We do believe that Decentralized Identity is a better model that provides scalable, peer-to-peer trust and verification across the Internet without traditional vendor lock in or location dependencies. While not yet ready for “prime time”, we do recommend clients to begin engaging with working groups and early vendor offerings, consider Decentralized ID in your IAM architecture, get educated, and engage in pilots and POCs. We’ll also cover key vendors, pilots and activities.

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