Today Swisscom announced it’s working with Orell Füssli to progress the use of legally binding digital certificates that use blockchain. While Orell Füssli is known as a Swiss book publisher, it also prints banknotes and its subsidiary Procivis is a major provider of digital identity solutions for government services. For example, its eID+ solution is used by Zug.
Covid certificates that sometimes use blockchain have made the concept of blockchain and self-sovereign identity (SSI) more mainstream. With SSI, the user maintains control of identity information and chooses with whom to share it.
The smartphone solutions developed jointly by the two companies will target citizens, companies and public authorities, and they plan to launch the first application within 12 months. Examples of digital certificates mentioned include age verification, verification of documents, and combining identity with digital signatures. These digital certificates are forgery-proof.
Swisscom Blockchain was previously a steward of the Sovrin blockchain, an SSI initiative. However, it no longer plays an active role and Swisscom said the companies will decide together on the specific technologies to use which will comply with SSI principles . Swisscom is keen to host nodes for SSI solutions.
“Digital certificates, whether for age checks, job applications or even the conclusion of a contract, is the next simplification step, for individuals as well as for companies and public authorities,” said Urs Schaeppi, CEO Swisscom.
Switzerland is widely known for its referendum system, where citizens have a far more significant say in the regulatory agenda than other countries. In March 2021, legislation for an e-ID was heavily rejected in a referendum, with not a single Canton approving it. But the government is giving it another try and launched a discussion paper in September, which also suggests a self-sovereign identity approach.
This isn’t Swisscom Blockchain’s first identity partnership. It also has a relationship with Adresta, which developed a digital identity solution for watches.
Update: the article has been updated based on responses from Swisscom, including Sovrin