By Ewan Willars

Last month, we had the pleasure of attending and presenting at this year’s European Identity and Cloud conference held in Munich.

The event is one of the mainstays of the European Identity circuit, drawing attendees from around the world, and this year was a lively few days.  While there was a well-attended expo area with some interesting projects on display, our main focus was in the many presentations, panel sessions and discussions taking place over the course of several days.

What struck a chord straight away was the number of quite practical presentations – while identity schemes in particular are developing slowly in the UK, this was proven not to be true in other places across Europe and beyond.

From blockchain-based ‘cold-chain’ applications for the pharma industry, operational cloud-based attribute exchanges to access control implementations, the range of real-life applications was noticeable, and heartening.

There was also a strong and noticeable focus on privacy and the impact of GDPR on how identity and cloud solutions were being shaped, and on user experience; so often a forgotten element in the rush towards shiny new tech and processes, but a vital ingredient for success.

Our involvement formed part of the blockchain and self-sovereign identity track of discussions, sharing the stage with Rouven Heck (ConsenSys), Maximilian Möhring (Keyp), Martin Riedel (Civic) and Dr. Phil Windley (Brigham Young University), and ably chaired by Andy Tobin from Evernym.  The lively panel discussion drew great participation from a busy room.  The questions ranged from issues such as the future role of global tech giants, to ensuring trust in identity systems, and whether self-sovereign could unlock the door for digital identity.

My presentation that followed showcased the report on Self-Sovereign and Shared Ledgers we launched earlier this year, and in particular the forward-facing challenges and issues that need to be addressed if self-sovereign is to flourish.

These included an exploration of:

  • The regulatory clarity needed for relying parties to have trust and confidence in self-sovereign approaches
  • The application of standards to self-sovereign – without common and accepted standards the self-sovereign landscape will remain fragmented and niche.

As the market begins to mature, these and other issues affecting the confidence of relying parties and consumers to participate in the digital identity ecosystem will begin to be addressed.

And that could lead to some very exciting future developments in the self-sovereign space.