It’s time for a rethink on Digital Wallets – But in a good way !
Everybody sees Digital Wallets from their own perspective.
Governments see them as a way of issuing analogues of their existing citizen credentials. The SSI community sees them as a way of freeing individuals of any centralised authority. Organisations see them for glorified membership cards. Banks see them as a next generation payment system.
Importantly, Citizens that are aware, see them as an easy and efficient way of interacting with everyone and everything, in one consistent user-friendly way.
And that’s the beauty………
Digital wallets have the potential to fundamentally change the way we all interact on a daily basis. If designed correctly, and with a broad societal collective of actors and relying parties, our very way of conducting our lives will change. In the long term, I can see business, trading, personal relationships, all benefiting from interactions using digital wallets.
One could join a recreational club (showing that you meet certain criteria), use them as a background check for dating (because you exchange verified references and other personal data), buy clothes that you know will fit (because you disclosed your real measurements), as well as more traditional activities like investing and transferring money and assets (because you can demonstrate that you meet AML and KYC demands) and paying for goods (disclosing you delivery address and payment details).
But this can only work if the digital wallets all interact correctly, have a wide range of relying parties and trusted credential issuers, and are safe, secure and trusted. They must be able to provide the verifiable credentials that can be accepted by anybody and manage the complex transactions, noting that there could be many components and counterparties to each transaction.
Also they must operate a simple and low cost service model that provides enough revenue that all the players are happy. This can come from any actor in the ecosystem.
Everyone has a role to play, but they must stop thinking that digital wallets are just holders and bilateral presentation mechanisms like Apple’s Wallet application, but whenever needed, more of a collaboration portal and workflow. This functionality need not be an integrated component of the digital wallet itself, but could be a separate functionality run by a third party.
So who could you trust for operating this complex extra-wallet workflow, that could involve serious money, but lends itself to automation that might need to be regulated?
…..Banks perhaps !