Together with SURF, we developed a proof of concept for a 'self-sovereign identity (SSI)' wallet, a mobile wallet app that empowers students to have control over their personal data used in education. This application is experimental and intended for further research into Self-Sovereign Identity applications and personal data management.
SURF is the IT cooperative for education and research in the Netherlands. In this collaboration, more than 100 educational and research institutions work together to discover and leverage digital opportunities with the goal of making education and research more effective and flexible. SURF develops and innovates digital services, such as eduID, which provides students with a single digital identity during and after their educational journey. Within the context of 'Lifelong Learning', SURF collaborates with educational institutions on edubadges: digital certificates that allow individuals to demonstrate specific knowledge or skills.
The goal is to experiment with wallet technology and its applicability in education and research. That's why a Proof of Concept was developed, rather than a fully functional mobile app. The wallet app was built using existing components, including SURFconext, eduID, edubadges, and IRMA (Yivi).
Here are some reasons for setting up the proof of concept:
- The Self Sovereign Identity (SSI) ecosystem and technologies are becoming more mature.
- There is new regulation (eIDAS 2.0) that mandates wallet adoption in the EU, including the Netherlands.
- The government is actively promoting wallets and the disclosure of source systems, partly as a result of this regulation.
The main objectives of this project were to explore and develop user flows related to Self Sovereign Identity (SSI), evaluate technical implementations using existing services from SURF, and explore wallet interactions and flows.
As part of this, a user flow was developed that allows students to prove their student status to a pizza vendor in order to claim a student discount.
One of the challenges in developing the Proof of Concept was the issuance and storage of edubadges through a Self Sovereign Identity wallet. Developers encountered difficulties in releasing complex sets of attributes, but eventually managed to build a solution that allowed individuals to access their earned edubadges through a mobile SSI wallet. More information about the challenges can be found here.
The SSI wallet had to meet the following requirements:
1. Self Souvereign: users should have control over their own data.
2. Lifelong Usability: the wallet should remain usable even after graduation.
3. Privacy-Friendly: the wallet should prioritize user privacy.
Elements developed an Android app. We made use of existing technologies within the digital identity domain, including:
- IRMA (now Yivi): used for the core wallet functionality, developed in Flutter.
The Proof of Concept has provided SURF with several key insights in their journey toward an SSI wallet. Some core findings include:
1. It is possible to use Yivi to build a digital wallet. For example, it was successful in storing and accessing earned edubadges. However, not all use cases are supported yet.
2. Having a technical wallet alone is not sufficient. A high degree of technical and semantic standardization is required.
3. There is currently no ecosystem in place, which presents a limitation. Efforts are being made in this direction, and developments related to eIDAS may accelerate this process.
4. A functioning proof of concept in the form of an app allows SURF to initiate further research with their stakeholders in projects like DC4EU and eduWallet in Npuls. The insights gained from this have made a significant contribution, along with the app's design.
Next steps involve further research and development of the mobile app, eventually evolving it into a complete product. Initially, this will be done in the Netherlands, followed by international expansion.