Blockchain identity is already in use in various sectors of data management and technological development. With its applications so far, can we say that the Blockchain has lived up to expectations?
Some experts think it’s overhyped, others see that late 2016/2017 will be the year of explosion for real-world Blockchain profitability and usage. That is, as long as politics doesn’t get in the way.
What is Blockchain identity?
Blockchain identity is also defined by Christopher Bates of Bitland as the representation of a 100% verifiable identity which can be established through a series of security layers and protocols. It is a system which makes it possible for encryption to prevent anyone who doesn’t need to see information from accessing it.
Bates explains that this can be applied when working with government oversight, where Blockchain identity could be used to protect Social Security accounts from being pilfered by governments who have overspent on their own budgets.
“One of the biggest issues is that tax money has no oversight once collected, and something like Blockchain identity could help prevent governments from spending taxpayer’s money which wasn’t theirs.”
Unique opportunity for Bitcoin’s Blockchain
Blockchain identity, according to Carl A. R. Weir CEO at Aten Group, is an unequivocal immutability for identity in any interlinked electronic mechanism. Weir says that the convergence from 2014/15 of Mobile/Blockchain/Cloud Computing & Fabric/ IoT have presented a unique opportunity for Blockchain identity to really come to the fore, whether that be in the guise of Bitcoin Blockchain usage, Ethereum smart contracts or Hyperledger of Eris.
Blockchain identity is based on consensus
According to Bates, the Blockchain isn’t the first crowd-computing project, and it isn’t the first experiment with distributed computing systems and ledgers. However, the reason that Blockchain identity is unique is because consensus is the basis of identity in many ways. Bates explains that when using the Blockchain a person or organization’s identity is not one-sided. Whatever a person or organization expresses as its identity also has to be verified by at least one party to be accepted as the true identity. Bates gives a real life example, saying:
“If you lose your driver’s license, birth certificate, and any state-issued identification, good luck getting a bank account, boarding a plane, or crossing a national border. Having a “digital” and “distributed” consensus-based identity would make it much more difficult for a person to accidentally destroy their own identity.”
Another aspect of the uniqueness of Blockchain identity, as explained by Weir, is that the immutable ID of a Blockchain is per block, per action, per transaction. In addition, it is the encryption that the Blockchain brings which assures uncorrupted identity, and an inability to allow bad actors to change, remove, edit, identity, falsify records or transactions.
Is Blockchain overhyped?
Some think that the Blockchain as a whole is an overhyped concept which has not lived up to expectations. This is a perception which is also shared by Bates who says to Cointelegraph:
“I think a lot of the Blockchain is overhyped. The remittance industry has been the biggest overhyped area besides “The DAO.” What happens is that the remittance Blockchain rhetoric talks about how Bitcoin is going to save the Third World, but it fails to actually understand or solve the problems that also come with converting “Bitcoin” into “groceries” locally in the Third World. The people spouting the most hyperbolic rhetoric are the ones who will be the last to actually go into Third World countries and “implement infrastructure” to support Bitcoin. They will travel in The West and in Europe to talk about it, but let’s see how many of them will actually be going to Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Mauritius, Cameroon, or Sierra Leone in the next year.”
2016-17 will see a Blockchain explosion
Contrary to this opinion, Weir retains the view that rather than a hype, there has been an overenthusiastic use case attribution in one direction - banking. He thinks that there are other sectors which could have scaled growth much more quickly and made Blockchain technology advances further down the line than they currently are.
“I see late 2016/2017 as the year of explosion for real-world Blockchain profitability and usage - as long as politics doesn’t get in the way.”
Real use cases
Weir gives an example of a real-use case of Blockchain identity from an IoT perspective:
“I go on Rakuten or Amazon and by an IoT-connected Fridge. I then buy an IoT-connected washing machine. Once installed, I found during the warranty that my fridge didn't remind me to buy washing powder, or that my washing machine didn’t tell me that a hand towel is still in the dryer. These are not issues, but what if the fridge and the washing machine has the ‘spinning wheel of death’ on its screen and my connected IoT devices were not talking at all, or worse, the last reminder entry was corrupted and the washing machine told the fridge to buy 1000 pints of milk? Like the age-old legal case of, if you buy a car from me for cash and you didn’t know I had ‘chop-shopped’ the car then the purchaser is legally bound, not the seller, so like the car, is the fridge or the washing machine liable, and what IoT entity is responsible, and what is covered under warranty for IOT? The solution could be that if a customer has a digital identity held in the Blockchain, and Rakuten/Amazon subscribe to the authentication of that identity, then that identity can be applied to the warranty held in a Blockchain, and if the transaction runs across a Blockchain then the person, to product, to purchase, to usage, can be tracked without error or recourse.”
Meanwhile, Bates also notes that besides Bitland, the Tao network has been making great strides in the music-industry intellectual property rights use-case.
He also mentions that Bitland will be working with Tao to secure the first government-recognized land title on a Blockchain in October, as Tao will be securing the actual copy of the land title, and the Bitland chain will record the relevant information for the title.
Blockpay, he says, has also been working in the area of point-of-sale systems for digital currency, while CCEDK has been a great use-case for an online digital start-up incubator.
As the digital world moves deeper into decentralisation, the echoes of the abilities of the Blockchain has become more resounding. Basically, being a data processing system almost every sector of human development has found at least a mention of the Blockchain. Some may argue that the Blockchain is overhyped, but the unrelenting encroachment of the system into the various sectors may suggest otherwise.