The coming rise of the metaverse represents a new frontier for privacy, trust and identity. A persistent virtual world where communication, finance and personal profiles converge under one interoperable platform.
In the rapidly approaching world of Web 3.0 applications and services that underpins the metaverse, it is more important than ever to have a portable and composable digital identity that preserves privacy and provides security. One that will not only offer proof of who you are and what you can access, but also acts as a non-custodial cache for your virtual assets.
a changing paradigm
Think about it – in the metaverse you can choose to take on any of an infinite array of possible avatars. It’s not like real life, where your face goes a long way in proving who you are. Instead, you’ll immediately need more ineffective means to prove who is behind that outlandish look.
This is important for users and providers alike. The stakes in this new digital world will be far higher than in the existing social media space. For example, parents want to know if their children are playing video games with other children, or at least be aware if they are repeatedly playing with someone three times their age.
What about buying virtual real estate? How can you be sure that you are not dealing with an illegitimate actor and inadvertently getting caught in money laundering? Or buying NFT art from a fraudster? The point is, we need to make sure that these entities are really what they say they are. Furthermore, as the metaverse stands to generate more personal data than ever before, every single user would like to know that their information is secure and belongs only to them.
New technologies, models lead the way
Fortunately, this is already possible through Self-Sovereign ID (SSI). SSI is enabled by a system of trusted identifiers linked to real-world verification data, such as biometrics, and is fully implementable thanks to an underlying blockchain and implementation of zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs). Essentially, ZPK facilitates the ability for one party to verify that the other party’s data is accurate, without revealing any personal information. This, together with W3C verifiable credentials, decentralized identifiers (DIDs), and encrypted communication standards, can make SSIs that are fully compatible across multiple platforms.
Users will still need to transact with the digital economy, whether in the metaverse or meatspace. Being able to make, buy and sell pretty much anything from anywhere will be one of the cornerstones of how this new world works. But with SSI, you’ll bring the same consistent, portable identity with you no matter where you are, what you’re doing, or what your current avatar looks like.
While Web 2.0 can be neatly summarized as a centralized monopoly of large tech firms harvesting user data, Web 3.0 turns that model on its head. Instead, the next evolution of the Internet – and indeed, the metaverse – is where participants can claim ownership of digital assets, including their personal data and identities.
In the current Web 2 environment, it’s impossible to use your Google identity in Apple
Now though, SSIs are using verifiable credentials and encrypted communication standards, these issues can be completely circumvented by providing a non-custodial and platform-agnostic identity solution. This means that users no longer need to input personal information, time and time again, to access different places and services. This new paradigm is for just about any user or business that has absolute faith in the many areas of the metaverse to come and the ones that populate them.
what does it look like
There are many possibilities here. For example, online games themselves will no longer be a closed ecosystem. Items you acquire or produce in one world may be brought with you to another or even sold directly or through secondary markets. Purchases can be made through any retailer with a single click, but you only need to enter your information the first time you set up SSI, and that data can be kept completely private. You can also do things such as proving that you have enough money for certain transactions, such as buying land, without disclosing your balance.
It’s not just about opportunities; It’s about a more secure experience. Inevitably, all the problems that currently exist on the Internet will fall into the metaverse, just with much bigger stakes. Your property and virtual land may not be likely to be stolen from something as simple as an accidental click on a dangerous link or a SIM swapping attack; People just won’t accept it. The new system has to be foolproof, so foolproof that you can’t even verify the transaction if it’s not the right person or service on the other end. Whether it is due to deception or user error is irrelevant.
always with you
The SSI model has a person’s value – be it crypto, in-game items, or other NFTs – directly tied to their identity. It will be accessible with a simple click to physical services like Uber
We are talking about a world where your personal cloud vault is effectively with you wherever you go. It doesn’t matter whether you’re “in” the metaverse or not; You will be connected to it. There will likely be many more powerful possibilities in the virtual world, but there will be a solid “link” between it now and where we are now.
Crucially, though, for the Metaverse and the potential it offers, it needs to be built right from the start – and that’s exactly what SSI stands for in this new, digital world.