June 18, 2019
One of our most important goals at the Sovrin Foundation is to foster a strong self-sovereign identity (SSI) community—a community where participants contribute, participate in working groups, collaborate with one another, and engage with standards organizations. The more we work together, the faster we will see the global adoption of SSI.
Validated ID, a fast-growing digital signature service in Europe, is a perfect example of community involvement in action. The organization became the first Sovrin Steward to be located in Spain and has continued to work with Sovrin and the digital identity community to create an interoperable, ledger-agnostic solution that helps build an open ecosystem of decentralized identity accessible to everyone.
The solution is called VIDchain. We sat down with Albert Solana, Product Manager at Validated ID, who is on the team developing VIDchain and facilitating its interoperability with emerging technologies.
Sovrin Foundation: Tell us about Validated ID. Where did it come from? Who makes up your team?
Albert Solana: Validated ID was created in 2012 by several enthusiasts from the world of ID and electronic signatures. Between all of us we had over 50 years of experience in the field of ID and signature systems. We knew exactly what we wanted to achieve and where we were starting from. We had worked on countless identity and signature projects, often complicated in nature, and as a result got to work in deploying services that put simplicity first, whilst maintaining the highest levels of technical and legal security. With this aim, we focus on two main services for electronic signature and digital identity verification. while maintaining the highest levels of technical and legal security.
Our company is headquartered in Barcelona and has offices in Madrid, Paris, and Berlin.
SF: What are some of the services and products Validated ID offers?
AS: Validated ID provides B2B SaaS services for digital signature and digital identity.
For e-signatures we offer ViDSigner, a multichannel platform for all use cases, combining top-notch legal compliance with the security of cryptographic technology, biometrics, and ease-of-use, spanning remote email certification to website and mobile integrations, smartcard, and handwritten face-to-face signing on tablets.
For e-identity we offer ViDChain, a decentralized self-sovereign digital identity service based on blockchain for processes involving identity verification, such as onboarding and KYC in compliance with GDPR, eIDAS, PSD2, AML, and anti-fraud policies.
We want to revolutionize the market with something completely new and make it available universally.
SF: Please describe VIDchain.
AS: Digital identity is certainly not a new challenge. Since the beginning of the online revolution, the secure validation of the real identity of people in the digital environment has presented itself as a problem—both for users, who have seen their privacy and control over their personal data eliminated, and for companies, who are constantly suffering the cost of inefficient identification and repeated security breaches.
With VIDchain, we offer a decentralized self-sovereign identity (SSI) based on blockchain, helping people regain control over their digital identity and facilitate secure user access to online services.
Our solution for the validation of digital identities and attributes, operating in compliance with the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and with impact on the onboarding processes of customers, KYC, and AML, has been awarded first place in the accelerator of Cuatrecasas and Telefónica and also first place in the project competition of Alastria Open Call Cataluña, consortium leader for blockchain in Spain. Currently we’re working with national and international partners such as Sovrin, Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF), and Alastria with the aim to create an interoperable, ledger-agnostic solution that helps to build an open ecosystem of decentralized identity accessible to everyone.
SF: What motivated your work in decentralized identity?
AS: It was a natural thing to start working on a decentralized identity system. Our founders have over 20 years of experience in digital signature, PKI management, and legal areas. During all this time, identity was always the main issue to solve, and yet nobody seemed to find the right solution until the rise of blockchain (or distributed ledger technologies). It was the missing piece of the puzzle. Plus, it creates a positive snowball effect that motivates the industry to develop new solutions using these technologies to create a new ecosystem of trust. The possibilities are endless.
SF: How have some of the recent advancements of decentralized identity helped accelerate the development of VIDchain?
AS: Working with national and international organizations such as Sovrin, DIF, and Alastria has shed light on how to create an open ecosystem of decentralized identity accessible to everyone. Also, collaborating with partners to validate our pilots and building out the network has been an essential step in preparation for us. Thus, the interest of events such as RWOT, IIW, KNOW, or EIC and working groups like DIF, W3C Verified Claims Working Group, Hyperledger Indy, and Hyperledger Aries projects.
We’d like to remark the work of big players, such as Microsoft and IBM to the SSI open source ecosystem, too. Microsoft did a great work on the Sidetree protocol and with the publishing of Identity Hub as a part of the DIF repository.
SF: What kinds of companies will benefit from VIDchain?
AS: VIDchain improves access for users, and it’s focused mainly on these use cases currently:
SF: What role did Hyperledger Indy and the open source community play in the development of VIDchain?
AS: It played a major role. One of the main pillars of our VIDchain solution is interoperability. To be a scalable, easy-to-use, and practical solution, it needs to be interoperable with different identity platforms. Because of this, companies can choose their own platform, and users can use their identity with as many services as possible.
In that sense, Hyperledger Indy and the open source community have played an extremely important role by providing all the necessary code and support. It has helped us to set up and focus on where we wanted to add value—on helping users.
In the same way, we appreciate being a Sovrin Steward precisely because we can help local companies with their SSI projects.
SF: What is appealing about the Sovrin Network?
AS: Sovrin is technology deployed in a real scenario. It adds value to customers at the very first moment that they start using it.
For us, it’s also a trustworthy network in which there’s a governance framework operating over it, and that’s as important as the technology. This trust is relevant to our clients and the solutions they want to build.
And finally, Sovrin is a community. Being a part of a global community, we can share our experiences and learn fast, so the solutions developed will be of great value for users.
SF: What do you think the next five years looks like for digital identity?
AS: In five years, self-sovereign identities will be a reality for everyone. Although, we’re not taking it for granted. We’re very conscious that we’ll have to work hard, overcome obstacles, learn how to cooperate among competitors, and add value to the users and companies.
The best KPI of the SSI solution will be that no one knows about SSI, but everyone uses it. Just like we did with the internet. We believe it’s possible to achieve that again.
SF: How will technologies like the Sovrin Network help create a future of self-sovereign digital identity?
AS: The Sovrin Network will be essential to the development of the future of digital identity. We need to cooperate among all of us and the ones to come to make self-sovereign identity solutions a reality in a mass scale and integrate the global diversity of needs.
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