By Vasiliy Suvorov, Vice President of Technology Strategy at Luxoft, Vice President, Crypto Valley Association

Today’s identity management poses a problem. Highly centralized and siloed, it forces us to create new accounts, provide personal details, and generate login credentials each time we decide to consume services from a different provider. At the same time, we blindly trust each service provider to manage the provided data carefully, hoping hackers will not steal it. This forces companies to become identity and security experts in order to avoid any security breaches, taking on an unnecessary financial burden and deviating funds that could be used elsewhere.

We’ve just grown too accustomed to it – and that needs to change.

One way to tackle this issue would be to decentralize identity management, which gives identity ownership and control to individuals. A connected identity system would enable any person, organization, or thing (IoT) to have an identity relationship with another – without authorization from a third party.

The above presents the idea ofself-sovereign identity (SSI), where anyone can use these identities and the resulting relationships without an intervening authority.

Introducing the Sovrin Foundation, Crypto Valley Association and Luxoft

The Sovrin Foundationis a non-profit organization that launched and oversees a specialized global distributed ledger: a blockchain that enables SSI. It provides the basis for easier and more secure identity management and new, more democratic decentralized business models.

Similarly, the Crypto Valley Association (CVA)is an independent, government-supported group aimed at building a thriving blockchain ecosystem in Switzerland – a country known for its strong, direct democracy, personal privacy and innovation.

When we first learned about Sovrin’s technology and mission, it was clear Sovrin’s goals, Swiss values and the CVA’s objectives aligned fundamentally. Through our Technology Working Group, we reached out and started to explore ways to enable Sovrin’s blockchain in Switzerland and explore various use cases that would benefit CVA’s members and the overall Swiss ecosystem. As a result, we announced an official partnership in 2017.

Initially, the partnership focused on operating the first “validator node” – nodes that achieve consensus – of the Sovrin ledger in Switzerland. Two of the founding members of CVA, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU),and Luxoft worked together to make it possible. The dedicated server running Sovrin’s node is hosted in an award-winning, minimum energy design data center facility of HSLU in Luzern, and is operated jointly by the experts of HSLU’s Department of Informatics and Luxoft. The teams are now exploring self-sovereign identity use cases and are working on onboarding new applications.

Blockchain for e-government…and beyond

Ever since the announcement of the partnership, the Swiss blockchain ecosystem has developed more rapidly than ever before. Governments across the federal, cantonal and city levels have expressed support and announced plans to make blockchain technology an integral part of Switzerland’s future. Projects on implementing electronic Identity, company registration and even eVoting on blockchain technology are well under way.

All these applications require a robust identity management foundation that is secure, scalable and futureproof – which blockchain can provide.

More and more frequent breaches of personal data are reported each day, even though the data is stored in supposedly “safe” central systems. And revelations on non-transparent and unexpected (and often not consented to) use of our online data accumulated by multiple centralized web businesses makes the need for SSI even more urgent. As we head into the future, I hope more will understand the identity management issue so teams can take on many more projects – in order to give the power of identity ownership back to the people.

Be sure to join us at the Crypto Valley Conference June 20-22 and learn how you can use decentralized identity management and other applications of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies to their full potential.