Standards-Based Digital Credentials: Flavors Explained

An Independent Review and Analysis

This publication aims to provide a simplified but technically-accurate overview of the main flavors of standards-based digital credentials (for humans) in the market today to inform policy, business and technical decision makers sitting on the fence regarding what to use for their implementations. Accompanying it is an infographic that provides a high-level overview of the four major flavors and two emerging flavors we are going to cover in the paper.

The first version of this paper, titled “Verifiable Credentials Flavors Explained”, was written in the midst of the pandemic in 2021 and addressed only credentials following the W3C Verifiable Credentials (VCs) Data Model. The first version has helped many with their understanding and decisions. However, the market has been evolving rapidly over the past two years. It is time that the paper was updated to reflect the current market condition. And this is made possible through the sponsorship from DRUK HOLDING & INVESTMENTS LTD. (DHI), the investment fund of the Royal Government of Bhutan.

We (Bhutan) launched our self-sovereign-identity-based national identity system in February 2023 and are currently strengthening the privacy, security and scalability aspects of our solution for the next major release in early 2024. Our standards-based focus requires us to make use of experts like Identity Woman in Business to ensure that we have a great global view to augment our regional view. The research published here is both extremely timely and insightful for our journey ahead. We hope that by sponsoring this project and making the outputs openly accessible, those in similar situations will benefit from the work as much as we do.

- Jacques von Benecke, Chief Technology Officer of DHI"

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