Decentralization is the IT moment of the upcoming decade. We’ve seen many projects and brands move their products into the immutable peer-to-peer blockchain as decentralized solutions. Recently, Polygon ,the layer-2-scaling protocol for Ethereum, has announced the launch of Polygon ID service. The service acts as a Web3 identification that authenticates user identity without revealing their sensitive information. The solution came in much needed time as Web2 platforms are being attacked for stealing sensitive user data.
The question is how did Polygon manage to create a service for identification without the need for user credentials? If you think it sounds shady, think again. The polygon ID service will be based on zero-knowledge proofs (ZK proofs). Let’s see what this is all about.
Polygon ID: Your Web3 Identification
Back in March 2022, nearly a year earlier, the layer-2 Ethereum scaling solution Polygon announced a decentralized identification service by the name of Polygon ID. In the official blog post, Polygon stated that the platform will be the first identification service to be powered by zero-knowledge cryptography technology.
Although it was expected to be fully operational by the end of Q3 of 2022, the release date was pushed to this year. Polygon Labs has finally launched the decentralized identification service on March 1, 2023.
ZERO KNOWLEDGE IDENTITY FOR WEB3
The Polygon ID team is excited to announce 4 tools have been released in the #PolygonID Identity Infrastructure to build a more equitable internet that places identity at the center of it.
The future is self-sovereign⛓https://t.co/h66KyDurJE pic.twitter.com/jTBbzBNVJk
— Polygon (@0xPolygon) March 1, 2023
Polygon ID is an open-source tool that enables developers to build decentralized, self-sovereign and private identity solutions for users. It allows anyone to become an issuer, verifier, or holder of a Web3 identity, and facilitates trustless on-chain verifications using off-chain data.
This decentralized identification platform uses blockchain-based ID for decentralized and self-sovereign models, ZK native protocols for user privacy, and scalable and private on-chain verification for decentralized apps and decentralized finance. The platform is open to existing standards and ecosystem development, leveraging the Iden3 protocol and Circom ZK toolkit while keeping the original spirit of community initiatives to provide open source protocols and tools to developers.
Today, we’re proud to announce the release of the open-source, Polygon ID Identity Infrastructure! 🎉
This is the first decentralized identity platform using zero-knowledge (ZK) to issue credentials on-chain, making it secure and privacy-preserving to power identity on web3.
— David Schwartz (@davidsrz) March 1, 2023
According to the official launch post, the release of Polygon ID represents a significant change in the internet’s trust model, offering businesses relief from user data management headaches and individuals greater control over their identity and personal data. Moreover, Polygon ID enables developers to establish trust and verification while maintaining user privacy and delivering a user-friendly experience.
What is Zero-Knowledge Proof?
That’s great and all, but how does it actually work? And what the hell is a zero-knowledge proof?
Zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) is a cryptographic method that allows one party (the prover) to prove to another party (the verifier) that a given statement is true, without revealing any additional information beyond the statement’s truth. Sounds philosophical, but not really.
This cryptographic technique works by the prover having an identifying secret without disclosing the secret itself to the verifier. That means, that the verifier can be convinced that the prover owns a certain object without seeing the object itself.
For example, someone can prove that they have a sufficient income to fulfill a criteria, like applying for a Visa, without sharing exact information about their salary or bank balance.
Zero-knowledge proof have the following parameters:
- Completeness: If the statement is true, the verifier will be convinced of this fact by the prover.
- Soundness: If the statement is false, the prover cannot cheat his way out.
- Zero knowledge: If the statement is true, the verifier will have no knowledge (zero knowledge) about anything other than that the statement is true. Thus, it means that the underlying secret doesn’t have to be learned to prove that a certain statement is true.
How Does ZK Proof Work?
Zero-knowledge proof works by the following steps. Let’s say Person A is the prover and Person B is the Verifier.
- Person A knowing the secret determines a set of questions that can always be answered by Person A correctly. At first, Person A chooses randomly any question from the set and calculates a proof. Then, Person A sends the proof to person B.
- After that, Person B chooses a question from the set and asks Person A to answer it.
- Person A calculates the answer and sends it back to Person B. The answer allows Person B to verify that Person A knows the secret (without actually knowing what the secret is).
Of course, in the identification process, the “secret” will be a user’s credentials.
Polygon ID’s Key Features and Use Cases
Some of Polygon ID’s abilities are:
- ZK-Query language allows users to prove their identity without disclosing personal information.
- Users can generate zero-knowledge proofs using off-chain credentials to interact with smart contracts. Off-chain credentials can be things like passports, national IDs or bachelor’s degrees.
- Passwordless login and reusable credentials improve user experience.
- Composable reputation follows users across multiple apps.
- Zero-knowledge technology enables compliance without sacrificing privacy.
But where can you use such a service? And for what? The use cases of Polygon ID are:
- DAOs: Polygon ID allows DAOs to verify membership without revealing members’ identities.
- KYC: Developers can use Polygon ID to create solutions for KYC verification that allow users to prove eligibility once and reuse the credential for other high-value services without disclosing personal information.
- E-Commerce: Polygon ID provides an identity layer for e-commerce customers, increasing payment security and reducing storage costs.
- Passwordless Logins: using encrypted verifiable credentials provide improved security, user experience, and productivity.
- Undercollateralized Lending: Polygon ID can be used to bring undercollateralized lending risk assessment and identifiable information on-chain.
- Portable Avatars & Reputation: Polygon ID enables users to store and update digital assets, achievements, and progress to be used across different games and the metaverse.
Everything Moving Towards Decentralization
After the surge of NFT sales in 2021, we’ve witnessed many platforms changing their plans to incorporate decentralized technologies such as digital assets, blockchain, and smart contracts. We are slowly moving towards the major shift from centralized to decentralized everyday tech like having a digital proof of attendance protocol, on-chain royalty systems, and now the decentralized proof of identification. The influx of Web3 projects this year might take decentralization to mainstream adoption.