Verifiable Credentials establish trust between parties – individuals, authorities, businesses, devices – allowing them to confidently exchange data and work together more effectively.
In essence, they are digitally signed data files that can be automatically processed and verified.
A credential is a piece of information that shows someone’s qualification, achievement, or attribute. It could be anything from a driver’s license or diploma to a salary statement or ticket.
A verifiable credential is a datafile that contains specific data. It’s tamper-evident, cryptographically secure, machine-verifiable, and respects privacy.
It can be about anything or anyone — people, organizations, devices — and it’s signed by one or more trusted issuers.
The owner of a verifiable credential has complete control over it and can decide whether to share it with others or not. By using a so-called Credential Wallet, they can prove specific qualifications or attributes without revealing any unnecessary personal information.
In today’s digital world, where identity and data privacy are essential, verifiable credentials are becoming increasingly important. They allow individuals and organizations to share only the necessary information while maintaining control over their personal data.
- The subject — the person or organization — requests certain data that proofs something about them, like f.i. a drivers license or permit, from some authority, like the DMV or local municipality.
- That authority issues this data as a Verifiable Credential and offers this to the subject, a.k.a. the Holder, who stores it in their personal credential wallet.
- At a later time, another party, like an official, request proof from the subject. In our example f.i. that they have a permit to hold a street-fair.
- The subject shares the proof as a Verifiable Presentation with the official who can immediately verify that the permit is authentic, valid and has not been tampered with.
Examples of personal data credentials
- Drivers license
- Professional certifications and licenses
- College and university degrees
- Academic transcripts
- Employment records
- Employer’s declarations
- Permits and licenses
- Medical records and prescriptions
- Credit reports
- Insurance policies
- Property deeds
- Financial statements
- Travel and immigration documents
- Background checks
- Drug test results
- Security clearances and access rights
Download the Sphereon Wallet for free and try it yourself:
Sphereon Wallet Demo 🔗
Organizations also have lots of credentials that they have to share regularly with other parties:
- Chamber of Commerce certificate
- Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO)
- Tax or VAT code
- Compliance with tax obligations
- Accountant statements
- Bank account information
- Permits and licenses
- Legal Entity Identifier
- DUNS number
If you want to know more about this technology, there are a growing amount of sources:
- W3C Verifiable Credential specification
- W3C Verifiable Credentials Working Group
- EU EBSI Verifiable Credentials Explained
- UNECE White Paper on eDATA Verifiable Credentials for Cross Border Trade
- John Savill’s Technical Training ‘Understanding and Using Verifiable Credentials’
Awesome detailed technical deep-dive. 1h32m, but then you know more than most.
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