Since acquiring Mir Protocol, Hermez, and other zero-knowledge (zK) tech companies in 2021, Polygon has been building and developing its in-house zK rollup to scale Ethereum while exploring other use cases for the tech. After announcing March 27, 2023, as the date for the launch of Polygon zK-EVM mainnet beta, Polygon Labs has now rolled out a new privacy-enhanced identification product that utilizes the zero-knowledge technology. It announced this two weeks ago as it ramps up its first foray into innovative zK research and development. With the release of this product, which it describes as Polygon’s ID self-sovereign identity infrastructure stack, the Web3 firm is looking to take the digital world one step closer to solving the issue of digital trust.
What is Polygon’s Identification Product About?
Polygon’s ID project primarily provides an abstraction layer to enable developers to build applications leveraging the Iden3 protocol. Iden3 is an open-source protocol that leverages zero-knowledge proofs to build trustless identity verification systems. The protocol defines on a low level how multiple parties can communicate and interact with each other. Iden3 is a next-generation private access control that allows for self-sovereign identity, designed for decentralized and trust-minimized environments. Zero-knowledge technology, as the name hints, is a type of cryptography that makes provision for network participants to interact with it with little to zero knowledge of who they are or what exactly they are doing. ZK tech has made great headways and is tipped to be one of the hottest trends this year for the digital asset industry. Polygon ID is built on this tech to eliminate the need for individuals to provide personal information to various websites or online applications unavoidably. This advancement has long been viewed as a critical potential use case for blockchains. Can people verify they have or bear an identity without disclosing their personal and most sensitive information? Polygon and zK tech says yes.
Why Polygon ID?
Anonymous verifications are cool, but what do they exactly do? Polygon ID, with the help of zero-knowledge proofs, allows users to prove their identity without exposing their private information. That ensures both the Freedom of Expression and Privacy by Default. Ideally, it unlocks a host of use cases, like:
- Issuance of elaborate proofs
- Real-world credentials meeting Web3
- Enabling passwordless login
- Enabling users to have a composable reputation
- Aids in compliance to help verify user identity without sacrificing user privacy
How Does Polygon Identification Product Work?
Polygon ID enables trust issuers to connect with trust verifiers. Individuals receive and store claims like a KYC check in a personal wallet and use zero-knowledge (zK) proofs to verify the statements made about them privately. Polygon ID can securely interact with smart contracts and other identities without revealing personal information. Every identity is identified by a unique identifier called DID (Decentralized Identifier), and every identity-based information is represented via a Verifiable Credential (VC). In simplest terms, a VC means any information related to an individual/enterprise/object. The VC could be as simple as the entity’s age or its highest degree. It could be a membership certificate issued by a DAO. Let your imaginations run wild.
The framework’s architecture comprises three modules: Identity Holder, Issuer, and Verifier. These three, together, form what is referred to as the triangle of trust. These modules interplay with each other in the following way(s).
Identity Holder: An entity that holds claims in its Wallet. A VC, as mentioned above, is issued by an Issuer to the Holder. The Identity Holder generates zero-knowledge proofs of the VCs issued and presents these proofs to the Verifier, which verifies that the proof is authentic and matches specific criteria.
Issuer: An entity (person, organization, or thing) that issues VCs to the Holders. The Issuer cryptographically signs VCs. Every VC comes from an Issuer.
Verifier: A Verifier verifies the proof presented by a Holder. It requests the Holder to send proof based on the VCs they hold in their Wallet. While verifying a proof, the Verifier performs a set of checks, for example, that the expected Issuer signed the VC and that the VC matches the criteria requested by the Verifier. The simplest example of a Verifier is a Bar that wants to verify if you are over 18. In the real world, the Identity Holder must provide an ID and show all their personal information. With Polygon ID, they only need to pass a proof.
A key factor here is the trust between a Verifier and an Issuer. The recognized fact that the information contained inside a VC is cryptographically verifiable doesn’t guarantee its truth. The Issuer must be a trusted and reputable party so that Verifier can accept and assess the VCs originated by that Issuer.
Use Cases Of Polygon’s Identification Product
The Iden3 stack could help web3 projects with more resilient and efficient identity systems with features that may include:
- Self-sovereign identity generation and management
- zkProofs generation and verification
- Proof-query language
- Authentication and authorization
- Multi-identifier ID model (with cross-auth methods)
- ID profile based on verifiable claims and documents
- Mobile ID wallet app reference + mobile SDK
- P2P communication between identities
- Claim lifecycle management (issuance, revocation)
- Expressive claims syntax
- Decentralized naming service
- Key rotation and ID recovery
- ID sponsor model (cost-free solution for users)
- Interoperability with DID and Verifiable Credentials standards from W3C
The simple and unique characteristics of Polygon’s ID present a versatile range of use cases. Its usefulness is extensive in the world of decentralization as companies continue to innovate across trust models, voting systems, ecosystem interaction, payment identifiers, private access control, signing of documents, private messaging, supply chain, IoT, and NFT ownership.
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