What are Verifiable Credentials?

What are Verifiable Credentials?

Verifiable credentials are the future of digital identification and security. They address a number of the current issues we have about our papers and identities.

Verifiable Credentials - What Are They?

Verifiable credentials, or VC in short, are tamper-proof credentials that can be cryptographically confirmed. Three critical components of verified credentials are as follows:

  • It is verified by mathmatecially.
  • It is impenetrable and safe.
  • A competent authority has issued it.

VCs enable the holder to disclose personal information, which may later be used to substantiate a particular claim. Sally, for example, may utilize VCs to demonstrate to a caretaker, Joe that she is a member of the school's bowling club and so entitled to enter the building. Traditionally, Alice would provide Bob with her membership card. The issue is that Bob is provided with a plethora of additional information that he does not require to establish her membership.  

The Ecosystem of Verifiable Credentials

A verifiable credential ecosystem consists of three entities:

  • Issuer
  • Holder
  • Verifier

The Issuer is the entity that issues the credential, the Holder is the entity to which the credential is granted, and the Verifier is the entity that confirms if the credential satisfies the VC's set requirements. So let's discuss these entities in further detail.


Those who are allowed to issue a credential are known as "issuers." These organizations include government agencies, healthcare facilities, banks and financial institutions, colleges and universities, and maybe even organizations that verify employment. A mix of digital signatures and bespoke schemas are used to verify the legitimacy of these organizations before they may issue a credential.


A holder is the one who owns the credential and has total authority over its management, sharing, and revocation. Individuals or organizations are often holders. Because the holder is the owner of the credential, it is up to this organization to develop a verifiable presentation, which is a compilation of data supplied by one or more issuers in a machine-verifiable format that complies with established criteria.


A verifier is an entity that validates a credential and confirms that a competent issuer issued it, is tamper-resistant, and remains valid (not expired or revoked). In addition, a verifier obtains the holder's verifiable presentation to authenticate it.

Verifiable Credentials: Entity Roadmap

The document is signed digitally by the Issuer and then sent to the holder. Finally, the holder prepares a verifiable presentation formatted according to W3C guidelines and delivers it to the verifier for review and verification. 

The Standard for Verifiable Credentials

The Verifiable Credentials Data Model (VCDM) standard was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). It aims to address all of these issues while respecting privacy by guaranteeing that checks and verifications do not monitor or coerce credential holders into disclosing more personal information than is necessary. COVID passports are a contemporary illustration of how organizations and people have legitimate (if distinct) concerns regarding the management, verification, and sharing of such credentials. The W3C standard is based on a three-party trust model: the Issuer confirms the document's authenticity; the Holder is the party to whom it is allocated for subsequent presentation. Finally, the Verifier is the party that wishes to verify that the issued document is authentic. Both the Verifier and the Holder have faith in the Issuer, and the Holder has faith in the Verifier (at least to the level of the identity attributes that it is requesting).

Zero-Knowledge Proof

Zero-Knowledge Proof enabled credentials to permit selective disclosure of claims from a verified credential without releasing all of the credential's contents. Additionally, it enables data verification without requiring the sharing of sensitive data. In this article, we will only request a subset of the data from a verified credential. This would enable the implementation of business processes without the need to communicate or replicate sensitive data.

VCs as the new Identity Standard

Verifiable Credentials can establish themselves as the de facto standard for tackling identity verification and authentication difficulties in the public sector and beyond. At its heart is a trust model aimed at instilling confidence in and protecting the interests of all parties while maintaining security and privacy. As an open and extensible standard developed by the W3C, it is gaining traction in the industry; what remains to be seen is how innovative public bodies and enterprises implement it in standards-based solutions that provide a seamless and secure verification experience that restores confidence in digital identity.







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