When you open an account, or get onboarded for a new job you have to prove who you are.
You scan an ID and take a selfie to prove a two things:
- You are legally allowed to work for this company / open this account
- You are who you say you are
Where this gets confusing is why you need to do this multiple times for every new account that you open. Especially if they’re all using the same service provider to prove points one and two.
While it’s not the end of the world to scan your ID and provide a selfie, there are other ways this could be done. If one company were to prove that the information you submit is legitimate, and others were to trust their verification, they could simply use a credential issued to you by the trusted company.
With cryptography, you can prove legitimacy without having to reveal the full information on a document.
So if Bank A uses a verification provider, let’s call them Verify, Verify tells Bank A, Zack is who he says he is, and is able to open an account.
Now let’s say that a few months later, you’re onboarding to a Job A and they also use Verify. Normally you would have to re-upload your documents and Verify would tell Job A that you’re able to be hired.
Where I think we’re moving is that Verify can instead issue you a credential that you can securely and privately store. Then, when you onboard to Job A, you can share with them your credential and they will accept that credential allowing you to be hired. These may not be legally compliant yet, but it’s technologically possible, and potentially desirable to reduce the amount of personal information we’re giving away to the myriad of companies with interact with online.
Rather than organizations storing our personal data and checking it to validate claims, issuing credentials allows us to prove things without leaking excess information.
The simple example to understand is that when a bouncer checks your ID at a bar they’re making sure:
- You’re above 21
- You are the person on your ID
In order to prove these things, the bouncer now knows your full name, address, and date of birth. All just to prove that you’re over 21. Instead, cryptography allows verification of information without revealing it all. In the future, the bouncer may scan a bar code that lights up and says you’re able to enter. Significantly less information will be leaked proving things about ourselves. Interactions will become more seamless and trust will be easier to exchange.