Embedding Identity into the Blockchain With Solana

News

At our core, Identity.com was founded on a couple of tenets to which we strictly adhere. One of these foundational values is that a person’s identity should be under their own control. The other is that people should not have to compromise their privacy to use transformative technology. The premise that innovations must come at the cost of privacy is a false choice, and this is a narrative we continue to seek to debunk.

Now, with a few years of progress under our belts, growing investment in Blockchain, and an explosion of interest in DeFi, our vision — and values — are growing with the times.

The time is right to add a third core value — that decentralized blockchains should not become centralized when a person needs to identify themselves. Indeed, it has become increasingly clear that how we collectively choose to architect technology now may have unintended ethical effects further down the road. We are adding this third value in the spirit of protecting the individual.

Identity and the Blockchain

We’ve always believed that identity is the missing pillar of blockchain. It’s the component that will make blockchain safe, accessible to the masses, and amenable to regulatory bodies across the world. Yet, there is no mainstream chain that treats identity as a first-class citizen, and existing attempts to add identity to crypto solutions have all too often been clumsy.

Since Identity.com’s inception, we’ve used blockchain as a cornerstone for our identity infrastructure. We now think the time has come for identity to be a cornerstone of blockchain infrastructure too. Our goal for Identity.com in 2021 is to pave the way for a “user-first” identity platform on the blockchain, that allows for privacy, regulatory compliance and ease-of-use, without compromising the decentralized nature of blockchain.

Here, some context helps explain how we will achieve our goal. We’ve always been a multichain ecosystem, but our core marketplace functionality was built on Ethereum. We made that choice because, at the time, it was by far the most established, most decentralized, and most stable Turing-complete chain available. Frankly, it was miles ahead of the competition. Even today, it continues to be a leader in the DeFi space and a beacon for large-scale collaborative decentralized networks everywhere.

However, in the meantime, a few things have changed. Chiefly, the popularity of DeFi has ballooned gas costs, pricing out both consumers and businesses participating in the ecosystem with enormous transaction fees. Further, progress on the sharding “sequel” Ethereum v2, while promising, is not sufficient enough to reduce Ethereum costs in the near future. And, interestingly, a number of equally, if not more powerful, alternatives to Ethereum have emerged and are now mature.

Solana and Identity

With all this in mind, the best alternative is Solana, a fast, low-cost Layer-1 blockchain based on breakthrough technology that allows a decentralized network of nodes to outperform the performance of a single node. Currently, Solana can handle up to 50,000 tps with sub-second finality and fees as low as $0.00001 per transaction. By comparison, Ethereum supports 15 transactions per second. Most importantly, Solana’s blazing speed and low fees scale as the ecosystem grows without sacrificing censorship resistance or security.

Solana has already seen growing interest in the DeFi space with established DEXes and AMMs, such as Serum and Raydium, already processing user transactions. After exploring the alternatives, we find Solana to not only be a suitable solution for DeFi, but also for the next generation of the Identity.com ecosystem.

Not only are we moving the existing Identity.com marketplace to Solana, but we are also extending and enhancing it in a number of crucial ways. Namely, we’re focused on making identity a first-class citizen on the blockchain infrastructure, and we believe that Solana is an ideal protocol to enable this.

First Priority: Decentralized Identities (DIDs)

Our top priority in our upcoming work with Solana is to refine our DIDs. DIDs have always been foundational to the Identity.com ecosystem. Over time, they have emerged as a crucial building block for interoperability in the self-sovereign and decentralized identity space. The next version of Identity.com will have DIDs at its core in order to ensure that it remains compatible with other solutions and streamlines integrations. 

As we build this foundation, we’ll also be expanding the following features:

  • Using DIDs to associate the transfer of credentials and corresponding payments in the CVC token with an identity, without increasing the risk of identity correlation.
  • Using Solana as a low-cost, Layer-1 storage solution for DID documents 
  • Building multi-device identity profiles and secure account recovery.

Second Priority: Marketplace v2

The Identity.com marketplace provides a trustless model to allow all actors in an identity transaction to interact with each other. Specifically, it has the following benefits:

  • Users retain control over their identity credentials and choose who to share them with.
  • Requesters benefit from reduced costs of KYC and other identity checks through secure reusable credentials without lock-in to a particular vendor.
  • Identity validators have a mechanism for being compensated for attesting to credentials in a way that even allows them to earn passively on reuse of credentials they issued long ago.

Moving our marketplace solution to Solana allows us to retain the above benefits while drastically reducing cost. In addition, Marketplace v2 will be augmented with one or more of the following:

  • Low fee micropayments for compensating credential issuers with CVCs.
  • Low latency for CVC payments, increasing trust and reducing centralization.
  • Passive payment of CVCs for Validators, reducing the complexity of integration and reducing reliance on centralised oracles.
  • Integration of identity checks with on-chain smart contracts while maintaining user privacy.

Third Priority: Identity as a first-class citizen on the blockchain

Identity.com facilitates a vital overarching goal, namely the ability to associate real-world activities with activities on the blockchain. Once a secure and trusted on-chain identity platform is established, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the possible real-world use-cases it enables. Perhaps your next landlord will trust that your security deposit can be stored in an on-chain escrow, because your rental lease is signed with the same identity that made the deposit. Perhaps before your next job interview, you won’t have to root out the contact details for a reference from your university, because you already have their testimonial, signed with a DID that can be verifiably associated with the university on-chain. Perhaps your government will function more smoothly because DIDs will reduce the risk of sybil attacks in governance mechanisms and make  blockchain-based e-voting an achievable reality.

Before we get to this more efficient future, however, there are a few more immediate use cases that could be established on the blockchain. In the near future, we’ll be exploring opportunities in:

  • Establishing reputation and recourse in a low-collateral DeFi lending contracts.
  • Allowing decentralized exchanges, AMMs and other liquidity pools to meet regulatory requirements.

As blockchain technology becomes more mainstream, and on-chain activities start to replace the equivalent off-chain activities, the blockchain with the most advanced, secure and usable identity pillar will be the one that is most attractive to the world.

Our next chapter with Solana

We’ve never been more excited about opportunities with identity and the blockchain. Now that we are integrating with Solana to to embed identity into the blockchain, we’re looking forward to our next opportunities with DIDs, Marketplace v2, and truly making identity a first-class citizen on the blockchain. Thank you for taking part in our journey.