Digital Identity: On the Threshold of a Digital Identity Revolution

White Paper by the World Economic Forum: “For individuals, legal entities and devices alike, a verifiable and trusted identity is necessary to interact and transact with others.

The concept of identity isn’t new – for much of human history, we have used evolving credentials, from beads and wax seals to passports, ID cards and birth certificates, to prove who we are. The issues associated with identity proofing – fraud, stolen credentials and social exclusion – have challenged individuals throughout history. But, as the spheres in which we live and transact have grown, first geographically and now into the digital economy, the ways in which humans, devices and other entities interact are quickly evolving – and how we manage identity will have to change accordingly.

As we move into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and more transactions are conducted digitally, a digital representation of one’s identity has become increasingly important; this applies to humans, devices, legal entities and beyond. For humans, this proof of identity is a fundamental prerequisite to access critical services and participate in modern economic, social and political systems. For devices, their digital identity is critical in conducting transactions, especially as the devices will be able to transact relatively independent of humans in the near future. For legal entities, the current state of identity management consists of inefficient manual processes that could benefit from new technologies and architecture to support digital growth.

As the number of digital services, transactions and entities grows, it will be increasingly important to ensure the transactions take place in a secure and trusted network where each entity can be identified and authenticated. Identity is the first step of every transaction between two or more parties.

Over the ages, the majority of transactions between two identities has been mostly viewed in relation to the validation of a credential (“Is this genuine information?”), verification (“Does the information match the identity?”) and authentication of an identity (“Does this human/thing match the identity? Are you really who you claim to be?”). These questions have not changed over time, only the methods have change. This paper explores the challenges with current identity systems and the trends that will have significant impact on identity in the future….(More)”.