Guest blog: Polygon ID — Verifiable Credentials meet Web3

· 6 min read
Guest blog: Polygon ID — Verifiable Credentials meet Web3

Polygon is a decentralized blockchain network that allows for the permissionless exchange of value.

Polygon ID, part of the Polygon ecosystem, provides a Self-Sovereign Identity solution leveraging the power of Zero-Knowledge Proofs. It consists of a set of libraries, tools and ready-made applications that can be used to facilitate trusted, secure and privacy-preserving relationships between identity holders, issuers and verifiers.

Polygon ID is open-source and can be deployed to any EVM-compatible chain. 

In our latest guest blog, Polygon ID protocol engineer, Oleksandr Brezhniev, Technical Sales lead for the American region, Otto Mora and Digital Project Manager, Alex Rosales answer our questions about the company's new product release.

Your website states that Polygon ID is "The first identity solution that allows users to use zero-knowledge proofs  generated from off-chain verifiable credentials to interact with smart contracts." What use cases do you envisage and what are the benefits of this approach?

Know Your Customer (KYC) is a key use case. We've seen multiple Decentralized Finance (DeFi) projects moving in this direction, including Uniswap, which recently has implemented the possibility to allow only verified liquidity providers in the new version of their protocol. Also Centralized Finance (CeFi) apps (such as centralized exchanges, on-ramp services, etc.) can benefit from better user experiences coming from reusable verifications. No more passing KYC on each platform separately!

But also there's a range of use cases not related to KYC. For example:

  • Decentralized Autonomous Organisations (DAOs) may allow voting only to their GitHub contributors.
  • Limit who can join a DAO based on belonging to a social group, like "Women in Tech."
  • Build communities to solve issues and fund local development projects.
  • Distribute tokens (airdrop) among “Active Steam players” to attract new users to a Web3 game.

In regard to voting and airdrops there is an interesting use case, Sybil resistance. Based on a Proof-of-Uniqueness credential (for example, issued by an identity verification provider), a user can prove that they are unique without disclosing any personal information and can vote only once, no matter how many Ethereum addresses and Decentralized Identifiers the user has. Protection from Sybil attacks and bots is crucial for decision making and fair funds distribution.

Another problem this capability can solve is recovery of access to user accounts. For example, an Abstracted Account (a new way to make Ethereum accounts more secure, with a better user experience) allows you to change the account “owner” if the new “owner” proves to be the same person, using credentials from a trusted KYC provider or from preselected, trusted friends.

To sum up, bringing off-chain data in the form of Verifiable Credentials on-chain improves security and compliance without sacrificing user privacy, reduces fraud, increases automation, improves user experience and opens new possibilities for Decentralized App (DApp) developers.

And with the recent implementation of on-chain issuer in the protocol, it's also possible to decouple on-chain data from the user's Ethereum address, and prove (on-chain and off-chain) for example that his balance is over some threshold without revealing the address and exact amount.

Your website also states that "Polygon ID meets W3C Verifiable Credential and Decentralized Identifier (DID) standards." Why is this important and what business benefits does it deliver?

This statement signifies our alignment with key industry standards and protocols that relate to decentralized identity and verifiable credentials, which is important to us because of:

  1. Interoperability and Compatibility: Conformity to the W3C standards for Verifiable Credentials (VC) and Decentralized Identifiers (DID) means that Polygon ID aims to work seamlessly with other platforms and systems that also adhere to these standards. It simplifies integration with existing tools and solutions on the market, increasing its utility and versatility.
  2. Trust and Security: W3C VC and DID standards are designed to provide a secure and trustable way of handling identity and credentials in a decentralized and privacy-preserving manner. By aligning with these standards, Polygon ID can assure its users that their identity and credentials are handled in a secure and privacy-conscious way. This can be especially important in applications involving sensitive personal or financial data, such as in the finance and healthcare sectors.
  3. Future-proofing : Many identity solutions, especially in the Web3 space, develop their own incompatible ways of representing identifiers and credentials. Being an early adopter and promoter of standards, combined with our novel privacy-preserving method to prove statements and do selective disclosure based on ZKPs, can give Polygon ID a competitive edge in the rapidly evolving decentralized identity space. It demonstrates our commitment to innovation and a future-proof approach to technology development. This can be appealing to both developers and businesses looking for long-term, stable solutions.

Consequently, this positions us for greater adoption and brings us closer to fulfilling our vision of empowering individuals and giving them back control over their identities and personal data.

How does being a member of the Decentralized Identity Foundation help Polygon ID align to the W3C standards and related DIF specifications? 

Through our membership in the DIF, the Polygon ID team can interact with various industry working groups that are very relevant to us:

  • DIDComm: Our protocol utilizes a subset of DIDComm called iden3comm that was developed specifically for Iden3 / Polygon ID. In this working group we can contribute this technology and align with other members interested in DIDComm.
  • Claims and Credentials Working Group: allows the alignment of credentials and schema standards including “basic identity credentials” that we are currently creating with our Polygon ID Common Schemas initiative. Several of the KYC issuers in the Polygon ID ecosystem are also members of the DIF which will facilitate standardization.
  • Integration with the Universal Resolver: We believe in interoperability as promoted by Markus Sabadello and other DIF members. Through our support of the Universal Resolver for Polygon ID DID resolution we get closer to that objective.

Also through our DIF membership we are able to support other events including hackathons, which helps us connect with startups and developers in the Decentralized Identity space.

Are you able to give us a sneak preview of your product roadmap? 

After many years of research and consequent development of the iden3 protocol and a complete suite of tools to serve all actors in the “triangle of trust” (issuers, holders and verifiers), such as an issuer node, the wallet sdk, and the verifier sdk, we finally launched the first production version of Polygon ID in February this year. 

Since the launch, we have been gathering positive and constructive feedback from developers and companies implementing Polygon ID, which has enabled  us to improve our tools and add new ones to make it easier for developers and end users. 

Among the new tools we have already added to the Polygon ID suite:

  • The js-sdk design to build browser-based applications. 
  • The query builder to make it easier for developers of applications to construct queries based on the zkQuery language.
  • The schema builder that helps issuers find existing schemas (hence achieving standardization and interoperability) or create new ones.

Now that the suite of tools is mature, our next goal is to focus on growing the liquidity of credentials in the Polygon ID ecosystem. To achieve this, the new version (launched earlier this week) will make it easier, and will add new possibilities, to generate credentials:

  • New credentials marketplace: Makes it easy for you as a developer to select which type of credential to use, and which is the issuer that issues the credential.
  • New on-chain issuer: Is a smart contract that allows the generation of on-chain credentials. The sources of information can be:
    • On-chain: you will be able to generate credentials based on public data already available on-chain. This will allow you for example to generate a credential that proves how many tokens you own without having to reveal your address.
    • Off-chain: you will be able to generate on-chain credentials based on off-chain documents:  The client application will take the off-chain document and transform it into a verifiable credential that will remain in the user’s identity wallet. Additionally, a zero knowledge proof will be sent to the on-chain issuer to certify this. For example, you will be able to create a credential based on your identity card or on a PDF issued by the government.
  • Improvements in the Issuer Node: Improving the Issuer Node, making it easier to install and use
    • Available in Cloud Marketplaces such as Google Cloud Marketplace (GCM) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) Marketplace
    • Possibility to store revocation trees on-chain.
    • Possibility to use a DID with Ethereum addresses: this will allow the issuer to use naming services and have cheaper state transitions.

It is important to highlight that Polygon ID is open source, which enables developers to propose improvements and audit the code.

During the next months, we plan to launch exciting new projects (some of them currently in the research phase) that we believe can be a breakthrough for the space. So stay tuned, follow us on X, subscribe to our newsletter, or contact our business development team.  

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