London, 15 July 2021 – A British tech company, Verafide, has launched a free app allowing local government organisations and the general public to verify vital information and provide proof of ID, qualifications and other vital personal information with a digital wallet.
Instead of photocopying passports and utility bills or presenting, all of the verified information is stored in a secure digital wallet which can be used on-line to access services and information as well as face to face with a QR-code.
For local government organisations, paper-based proof of residence could be replaced with a residents’ credential allowing residents to apply for parking permits or obtain a garden waste wheelie bin with the click of a button.
A digital credential can be used anywhere, not just with the organisation that issued it, easing cooperation between the public and private sector. For example, a council-issued disabled credential could be used with a local supermarket to book priority delivery slots.
The documents are encoded and digitally signed by the organisations that issue them as an alternative (or in addition) to giving you the normal paper version. Verafide's system includes a secure issuer's portal that is available to organisations that want to issue credentials digitally to their members or users.
The issuer portal is open to both private and public sector organisations which can issue credentials free to their members or in exchange for a membership fee – supporting clubs and trade organisations.
The computer code Verafide developed to issue, present and verify the digital credentials has been open-sourced in compliance with Government best-practice policy for public sector use.
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated the need for and development of verifiable credentials. As governments across the world debate vaccination passports, the NHS has created a digital credential to prove an individual’s vaccination status. Currently only available in the NHS app, Verafide sees this as one of many digital certificates that citizens will want to hold in their wallets.
The Chief Engineer at Verafide, said: "Last summer we won a competition launched by Innovate UK, the UK's innovation agency, and were awarded funding to realise our ambition to solve the issues around existing verifiable credentials data. We wanted to use our funding and technology not only commercially but also to give something back, to help UK organisations function more efficiently and with a greater focus on privacy.”
Anthony Culligan, Verafide Advisor and Chief Engineer at SETL, said: “We have received a lot of interest from local government organisations. Secure, digital credentials are not just a novelty making the administrative parts of our lives easier, they are now absolutely vital to getting people back to work, back to travelling - be that for work or family reasons, all whilst protecting their privacy.
“As with the evolution of money from paper to digital, identity and credentials will follow. We are proud to be at the forefront of innovation for verifiable credentials and actively involved in developing common industry standards. With a multitude of digital wallets and credentials offerings expected to come to market, ensuring interoperability across systems and the ability to integrate into existing infrastructures is more important than ever.”
Verafide brings together digital identity, credentials and payment into one digital wallet, putting the owner in full control of what happens with their personal information. An issuer of a credential does not see when and how that credential is used and any presentation of a credential is strictly controlled by the owner.
The enterprise version of Verafide's system benefits from a built-in payments functionality that allows organisations to commercialise and scale the issuance of certifications, from pet passports to professional body memberships.
One of the major expected use cases is for age verification. Existing systems tend not to work well on-line and users often have to give away too much information just to prove their age. Verafide expects a range of privacy preserving low-information age credentials to become available on its platform making buying alcohol or entering nightclubs a simple and private process.
Verafide is at the forefront of transforming ID from paper to digital, just as we have seen money evolve the same way. In February the UK Government announced its digital identity and attributes trust framework to further the development of a national digital ID. The next version is due by the end of the summer, with legislation being considered later in the year.
Elsewhere, in June the European Union announced proposals for its own trusted and secure digital ID, inviting Member States to establish a “common toolbox” by September 2022.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Verafide won a competition to receive funding from Innovate UK for its mission to build digital trust and resolve the inefficiencies in how credentials data is created, shared and verified.
Verafide is enjoying early interest and adoption and is already working with:
● The Linux Foundation Public Health and the Covid 19 Credentials Initiative - both developed to help public health authorities combat COVID-19 and future epidemics.
● Pyser Testing - a UKAS and CQC accredited testing provider that carries out PCR and lateral flow tests. The company is an approved UK provider of Fit to Fly, Day 2, Day 5 and Day 8 testing services.
● The Modular Open Source Identity Platform (MOSIP), an open source platform for Foundational ID systems developed in India , with deployments in countries such as the Philippines and Morocco, and backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Verafide's is open-source software, and the company offers an open-source SDK for the developer community. Its enterprise solution is delivered as SaaS and includes a ‘payment-for-credential’ functionality and additional functions for issuers including issuer hierarchies that allow controlled delegation of issuing. The Verafide App can be downloaded from the App Store for iPhone and Google Play store for Android.