Interoperability Series: Sovrin Stewards Achieve Breakthrough in Wallet Portability

August 27, 2020

One of the core principles of the Sovrin Governance Framework, and shared goals of the Sovrin community, is the broad categorization of interoperability within or between one or more layers of the ToIP Stack. Through interoperability, self-sovereign identity (SSI) will truly become a Universal Service.

The Sovrin Foundation is starting an Interoperability Series to showcase how Stewards and community members use the Sovrin Network to drive innovation. Please note that the Sovrin Foundation does not necessarily endorse solutions described in this blog series but rather acknowledges and celebrates ongoing efforts to expand SSI interoperability.

Episode1: This is the first blog post of the series, highlighting an interoperability breakthrough between SSI digital wallets.

Contributing Members: Trinsic / Main Incubator GmbH / esatus AG

ToIP Stack Interoperability: Technology stack / Layer 2

Thanks to the Sovrin Network and collaborative efforts from three Sovrin Stewards, Trinsic, Main Incubator GmbH, and esatus AG, SSI wallet portability is now a reality. Each of these Stewards has implemented wallet portability into their respective mobile apps, allowing for seamless transfer of a person’s wallet from one to another. This frees individuals from vendor lock-in and transforms business flexibility.

Portability has always been a core principle of the Sovrin Governance Framework:

An Identity Owner’s Identity Data shall be portable as determined by the Identity Owner and enabled via Open Standards

We are excited to see the collaborative efforts of Sovrin Stewards which, in this instance, has resulted in the first multi-vendor support of wallet portability in production. See more details in the original post.

Portability Drives Business Value

The primary benefit of wallet portability to businesses is that, regardless of the technology products businesses adopt to issue or verify credentials, they can offer customers a variety of wallets to choose from without locking them in. Wallet portability gives individuals freedom and choice when it comes to where they store their verifiable credentials. It also adds the following value:

Without this level of portability, an individual would need to start from scratch if they want to switch wallets. This can be likened to the early days of mobile phones, where transferring contacts from one device to another was an onerous, manual process. Just as standardization took place between vendors in the telecommunications industry leading to easy transferring of contacts between devices, so are SSI apps maturing to give individuals the ability to easily transport their wallet from one app to another.

Sovrin-Compatible Wallets and Portability

Thanks to Hyperledger Aries Framework .NET and the Sovrin Network, individuals can now move their self-sovereign identity wallets between three SSI mobile applications.

“Self-sovereign identity means that your identity is yours, not some technology provider’s. If you’re locked in, you’re not self-sovereign,” said Riley Hughes CEO of Trinsic. “Portability, like interoperability, is hard and requires cooperation between vendors. The Hyperledger Aries project gives us an ideal place to work together toward increased interoperability.”

To see how wallet portability works, watch the demo below which shows the transfer of verifiable credentials between the Trinsic and Lissi mobile applications.

“Lissi and the whole ‘SSI for Germany’ project is committed to helping the SSI community achieve interoperability at each level of the SSI stack, whether that’s between ledgers or between wallets,” said Helge Michael, Program Manager and lead of Lissi and “SSI for Germany” at Main Incubator GmbH. “We’re happy to be able to give our clients the flexibility of being able to move and store their verifiable credentials where they would like and enable them to switch between different vendors.”

“I am happy to see this kind of interoperability demonstrated on the Sovrin Network,” said esatus AG CIO and Sovrin Foundation Trustee Dr. André Kudra. “esatus looks forward to continuing to contribute to interoperability efforts within the Sovrin community and beyond.”

To import and export the wallet, the contributing Stewards used the indy-sdk import/export function. To encrypt/decrypt the wallet with a seed phrase, they used the BIP 0038 standard. If other vendors want to implement this functionality and be compatible with other BIP 0038-compliant wallets, they should refer to the standard and collaborate with other implementers in the Aries Working Group.

Looking ahead

Although this a major step forward in reaching the self-sovereign vision for wallets, the work is just beginning. Open questions around wallet settings, connections, and certain security concerns are still outstanding. A list of outstanding questions can be found here. The ongoing work to collaborate on these items is being done in the Aries Working Group.

The Foundation encourages its members to continue to strive towards interoperability at all layers of the Sovrin Ecosystem. If you are a developer interested in making your wallet portable with import/export-compatible wallets, you can get started in the Aries Working Group.

If you are a Sovrin community member who has successfully implemented a certain Interoperability piece which you would like to share with the community, please contact the Sovrin Communications & Community Engagement Committee at to showcase the solution in an Interoperability Series blog episode.

Lastly, we invite you to join the Foundation and other SSI network partners at the Indy Interop-athon on September 1st and 2nd, a two-day virtual event to define the work needed in Indy and Aries to make “network of networks” a reality for Indy DID Utility instances (ToIP Layer One public utilities). Click here for more information about the event.

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