SITA, the technology provider owned by the transport sector, announced a deal with decentralized identity startup Indicio for Digital Travel Credentials (DTC). It will enable passengers to store a digital version of their passport in a mobile wallet in line with standards from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The decentralized identity can be verified using blockchain, but the blockchain does not store personal data.
The two organizations have been working together for some time. In 2021 they unveiled a digital health credential for the Caribbean Island of Aruba. They extended that collaboration and piloted Digital Travel Credentials earlier this year, also in Aruba.
Now they aim to develop the solution further and deploy it across the travel industry. The goal is for passengers to arrive at the airport with all document checks completed. Presumably that means there will only be a photo cross check but no scanning of passports at the gate.
Indicio’s offering is a self sovereign identity solution (SSI). In other words, users store their own data and control with whom they share it. Based on Hyperledger technology, including Hyperledger Indy, a separate identifier (DID) is created for each data share event making it harder to link too much of a person’s private information.
“The adoption of digital identities will be the biggest technology breakthrough in the travel industry in decades,” said Jeremy Springall, SVP of SITA AT BORDERS. “It will simplify the identification process at every step of the journey and open up opportunities for the air transport industry to fully embrace the benefits of seamless travel and the digital economy.”
New blockchain identity models
Blockchain and digital identity are currently in flux, particularly in the crypto sector.
A key aspect of Hyperledger Indy and Self Sovereign Identity is that blockchain plays a very narrow role indeed. It’s used to verify the identity of credential issuers and logs identifiers for expired IDs, so it’s possible to check if a credential is still valid. No traces of personally identifiable information or even current identifiers (codes) are stored on the blockchain.
This contrasts with a current popular movement in public blockchain, SoulBound Tokens. These are similar to NFTs but are not transferrable tokens as they are linked to individuals. They also have separate identifiers for different use cases, such as your career versus your music interests. However, the token lives on a public blockchain creating potential privacy issues.
Another controversial development is WorldCoin which aims to scan people’s eyes as an identity tool. They argue that many people lack conventional identity credentials such as passports and that AI will make it harder to prevent fraud, so eyescans are the answer. As we wrote, WorldCoin may also not be immune to fraud. Initially it is also a heavily centralized identity solutoin. The co-founder of the Avalanche blockchain network highlighted that identity credentials should be replaceable in case something goes wrong. That’s tricky with an iris scan.