On the most recent CTMcast, Jack, Ben, and Tim Nicolle, founder and CEO of PrimaDollar, touched upon the importance that digital identity will play in facilitating the building of trust in a digital consumer landscape. This concept is being put to the test in Spain, where ten leading companies are working together to develop a self-managed digital identity model with blockchain technology.
The project, involving Banco Santander, Bankia, BME, CaixaBank, Inetum, Liberbank, Línea Directa Aseguradora, Mapfre, Naturgy and Repsol, and also the Alastria consortium, aims to give users control over their personal data, allowing digital identity to be self-managed by each person in a secure and reliable manner.
Self-managed identity enables people to have their personal data in a single digital identity, backed by the companies involved and stored on their own mobile device. Users may decide who to share the data with at any time in a fast, simple, secure process, in order to take up any service with no need to fill in tedious forms. For example, they may use their data validated by other organisations to hire a car, take out insurance, arrange a loan, take up an electricity service, or any service they wish, in just a few clicks.
Creation of a self-managed digital identity furnishes the certainty that information is reliable and has not been altered, thanks to blockchain technology. The challenge is to ensure that it has legal effects which are equivalent to the most advanced data validation and authentication processes available today.
New business models, greater efficiency and more benefits
This development will give the participating companies greater efficiency and improvements in various processes, such as registration of users. Also, in a bid to pass on their innovative capacity to people's lives, the project will enable participating companies to design new business models (individual and/or collective) to improve the user experience on the basis of the potential of self-managed digital identity.
During the concept test, now complete, the organisations found that the solution works satisfactorily. The second phase of the project is beginning this month. This aims to complete development within the next six months, in order to roll out this solution in a real production environment in May 2021. The companies participating in this concept test see great potential for all sectors.
At the present time, the demos function on one of the Alastria consortium's blockchain infrastructures (Ethereum-Quorum). This is a pioneer development in the use of the open-code libraries developed by the Alastria Identity Committee. In the months ahead work will also be carried out on other aspects of technical implementation and use cases.
The project undertaken by these companies is a technological challenge that they say will bring Spain to the fore in terms of blockchain and identity management, a basic issue in digital environments for both users and businesses. The solution will also help fight attempted fraud and identity theft with greater efficiency.
Alastria ID, the basis of the initiative
This project is based on the Alastria digital identity model (Alastria ID). The company is the first multisector consortium, composed of 600 partners including large companies, SMEs, public authorities and academic institutions, which aims to establish a public permission-based blockchain infrastructure, designed pursuant to Spanish and EU regulations.
Alastria ID has come about thanks to the cooperation of more than 100 members of this consortium, not only in terms of technical aspects and security, but also in legal terms, because Alastria brings digital technology lawyers into the design, to take account of all major regulatory aspects, particularly those concerning the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Since the first phase of the Dalion project kicked off in October 2019, this model has been analysed from a number of different perspectives (business, security, technology, legal issues, user experience, for example), and the necessary software components have been developed to enable organisations to offer the utilisation of self-managed identity in their business applications.
The ten companies involved in the Dalion project have built a solution that can guarantee the integrity and quality of data, preventing any duplication and errors, protect user privacy because no personal data are stored in the blockchain network or in a centralised format, and prevent any traceability of the data subject's activity on the network. The project includes observers from public authorities such as Alcobendas Town Hall and the University of Zaragoza, among others.
The Dalion project seeks to improve upon traditional single sign-on (SSO) solutions such as Google or Facebook, on the main premise that digital identity, composed of multiple attributes (credentials), is certified and validated by the issuers of the credentials. This means a single solution may be used to take up any kind of service on internet securely, a process which previously required specific complex mechanisms by each company or a physical presence.
The Alastria ID identity model has been presented to the Spanish Standardisation Association (UNE), and is moving forward from a "de facto" standard to a formal standard, and has also been submitted to other international standardisation bodies such as CEN/CENELEC, UNE's European counterpart, and has also served as inspiration for the European Commission's self-sovereign identity initiative, ESSIF.
The Dalion project looks set to bring practical and useful digital identities one step closer to reality.
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