Fractal ID in Conversation With Polygon ID: Anchoring User-Centricity With Decentralized Identity

For web3 ecosystems looking to grow their user base, why is decentralized identity so integral? Leveraging elements of the Fractal ID identity stack, what is Polygon ID’s vision to streamline its adoption?

Introduction

In this interview with the VP of Product at Polygon IDSebastian Rodriguez, we take a deep dive into the world of decentralized identity, exploring its key considerations: adoption patterns, future use cases & value generation. Sebastian also shares the vision behind Polygon ID, how it covers all aspects of the identity trust triangle and how the collaboration with Fractal ID empowers it.

Increased regulatory scrutiny and the growing demand for user-centric data management have powered decentralized identity systems that enable individual authentication in a privacy-preserving manner. As the web3 ecosystem grows, leading projects now have their eyes set on expanding the capabilities of their decentralized identity systems to accommodate other, less normative aspects of user identities.

The goal? To build a rich identity infrastructure where user onboarding is made even easier.

Fractal ID: Identity has been one of the hottest topics in web3 this year. Why are DIDs suddenly so relevant? How do you envision the future of decentralized identity?

Sebastian: “I believe it has become a hot topic for a few reasons. First, more strict regulation around personal data usage and second, the rise of more sophisticated forms of artificial intelligence makes it more relevant than ever to be able to distinguish between human-generated and AI-generated content. This makes content traceability and reputational information more important, which are both closely associated with DIDs. DIDs are the solution that empowers users the most. The alternative is to continue trusting traditional web2 identity providers such as Apple and Google. Governments (which generate the most important forms of identity) are challenged with deciding which system to favor and many of them find DIDs to be a better option. Currently, DIDs are more popular in web3, which is an industry that usually adopts these kinds of innovations early, but the long-term vision is that this will be broadly adopted by almost everyone.”

Fractal ID: Can you tell us more about Polygon ID? What is the vision driving it and what are the major milestones you have accomplished?

Sebastian: “Polygon ID a is set of tools that give web3 and web2 developers the ability to build decentralized identity solutions leveraging the Polygon blockchain and our identity protocol. We have tools for all angles of the identity trust triangle. For credential issuers, we have an issuer node server, for identity wallets, we have SDKs that can be used to integrate the Polygon ID protocol, for credential verifiers/consumers, we have software libraries in javascript and go-lang as well as smart contract templates that can be leveraged. In terms of milestones, we showcased the protocol in 2022 at some of the major Ethereum hackathons, and we officially released the first open-source version of the protocol during ETH Denver in February of this year.”

Fractal ID: For developers and users in particular, how does Polygon ID fit into the web3 ecosystem? What essential piece does it provide for both these stakeholders?

Sebastian: “We probably started with the most difficult part, which was to build a set of tools and an ecosystem that allows developers and users to generate credentials with a high level of assurance which can be verified (KYC, uniqueness, and liveness credentials and similar). From here we are moving in the direction of adding other aspects of identity which are less normative and that allow rich forms of identity which can be used for onboarding users onto platforms. We call these “trust signals.” They can vary from very basic consensus-driven statements such as “this user pays their loans on time” to others such as “this user has been a contributing member of this DAO for the last 3 years.” When you combine both the high assurance and low assurance trust signals you obtain a very rich identity ecosystem from where to build applications.”

Fractal ID: What major challenges does decentralized identity face on the road to mass adoption — specifically for Polygon ID?

Sebastian: “The main challenge to mass adoption is ensuring a smooth user experience. Standardization and interoperability are important, but user experience is the main challenge we need to tackle. This includes the learning curve for users, the need to understand new concepts around SSI and DIDs, and managing your data. We are aiming for a user experience that combines the ease of the use of “one-click” web2 solutions while still balancing SSI principles and allowing users to control their data.”

Fractal ID: How would you describe the collaboration between Polygon ID and Fractal ID in your own words?

Sebastian: “By having Fractal ID as a credential issuer in our ecosystem we are leveraging the existing user base from Fractal ID and allowing them to use their existing credential data in the ecosystem of web3 and web2 applications that have started adopting Polygon ID. This gives us a headstart in bringing users and applications to the ecosystem that can leverage Fractal ID’s flexible KYC framework. We are also happy to collaborate with Fractal ID in other areas including standardization of data vaults and KYC credential schemas.”

Fractal ID: The vision driving this collaboration is to accelerate DID adoption within the Polygon ecosystem and beyond. How can users leverage their Fractal ID account to interact with dApps on Polygon?

Sebastian: “Web3 builders of DeFi and DAO platforms can take advantage of this new ability to access Fractal ID credentials through the Polygon ID protocol to solve KYC and KYB verification challenges. We also have a growing ecosystem page where users can see which verifiers have implemented Polygon ID. We expect this to grow over time and potentially even include a marketplace of credentials of various types.”

Fractal ID: For projects building in web3, what would be your two cents on the value of decentralized identity for the infrastructure of blockchain ecosystems specifically?

Sebastian: “One area is the experience of onboarding users: we have to balance the need for high-quality onboarding data vs. burdening the user with requesting too much information from them. In this regard DID technology provides a neutral platform that prevents centralized entities from gaining too much control over user data and allowing a better user experience to be built both from a trust and usability perspective. The second area is that there is a subset of applications and use cases that need to build an additional level of trust and reputation from the user over the long term. These use cases are currently not possible to be built in a decentralized way, but through DID technology it will be possible to implement them as the ecosystem grows.”

Fractal ID: What does the future hold for decentralized identity in the next five years? Please also tell us what’s next for your project.

Sebastian: “I believe that the user experience of using DID technology will improve significantly over the coming years and we will eventually get to the point where we have the same level of ease of use as we have with centralized systems currently in web2. The way forward is to have something that matches the ease of use of “Sign With Google” but in a decentralized manner. We will also start seeing plenty of adoption from governments as there will be a need to bridge these “foundational identities” into various applications that are emerging. Also, another important area will be that of the digital content supply chain in which validating content authenticity will be enabled through IoT devices that will also have a DID (think of cameras, recording devices, weather measuring devices, etc.). In this future world, applications will leverage Polygon ID to add trust signals about their users.

Thank you for your time, Sebastian. It was great speaking with you!

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