Welcome to the Web3 ID Coalition’s Member Spotlight Series, where we highlight the groundbreaking work of our current members!
Today, we’re shining the spotlight on Identity.com, a leading identity-verification nonprofit providing an open-source, decentralized ecosystem. Identity.com gives developers the toolkits they need to provide users with easy-to-verify, reusable, and contextual digital identification that remains in their control.
We recently spoke with Phillip Shoemaker, Identity.com CEO and Executive Director, about digital identity in the web3 ecosystem.
1. How do you explain Identity.com in simple terms?
Identity.com is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, focused on delivering low-cost, validated decentralized identities to the masses. As big believers in giving back to the community, we believe our open-source-first mindset will enable others to benefit and contribute.
2. How did you get started in the digital identity space? Share your back story.
I’ve always loved the anonymous nature of the internet, but realized, when working at the App Store, that remotely identifying your users is a very difficult task. After leaving Apple, as a long-time investor in crypto and believer in the power of decentralization, I began exploring how to solve the identity crisis we have on the internet. This exploration led me to Civic Technologies, where we spun off Identity.com to focus on the protocol, community, and open-source principles.
3. Tell us about the Gateway Protocol, your flagship technology. How does it empower users to meet identity requirements?
The Gateway Protocol provides compliant and secure access to verified information on-chain. Businesses or applications can use the protocol to meet their identity requirements (such as KYC and AML) without developing their own identity verification system or data storage. With our Gateway Protocol, gatekeepers are able to set up any number of requirements, and dApp developers can choose which requirements they want to implement for their users.
4. In your mind, what is the most pressing issue facing the development and proliferation of web3 identities?
Web3 identities are ripe with issues at this time, but let me focus on three.
The first has to do with ease of use. With web3 identities, much like crypto in general, the onramp is extremely difficult: passphrases, private keys, and other gateways that are often challenging to navigate prevent the general public from joining us in the web3 world.
The second issue has to do with trust. FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried have eroded the trust that we have spent years building, and the general public, not to mention the government, have lost all faith in this industry.
The third, and probably one of the most important aspects, is the number of competing decentralized identity providers, and their focus on unique, novel technologies. Instead of focusing on interoperability between providers, people are more focused on competing. This is why I’m excited by the Web3 ID Coalition.
5. What is one project you are currently working on that excites you the most?
We have recently received a grant from Binance and will be spending the next few months focusing on a complete port of our Gateway Protocol to BNB Chain. We believe that any good identity protocol needs to be on a large number of chains.
6. What can we expect from Identity.com in the next six months? Where will you be in three years?
Over the coming years, we’re focusing not only on expanding our Gateway Protocol across numerous blockchain networks, but also on launching a set of powerful tools. These will empower both web2 and web3 applications to efficiently issue, verify, and accept Verifiable Credentials.
7. What do you hope to achieve as a member of the Web3 ID Coalition?
As an identity community, we need to ensure that there is more interoperability between providers. We are confident that the Web3 ID Coalition will strive to make this a reality. Additionally, we see the need for a unified voice to drive change within various governments, and believe the coalition can help facilitate access to policymakers.
Many thanks to Phillip for sharing his vision for the future of digital identities! Be sure to check out this space in the coming months for more Member Spotlights, as we’ll continue to profile innovative organizations dedicated to advocating for public policy that paves the way for secure, portable, and trusted digital identities.