SELF-SOVEREIGN IDENTITY – A COMPARISON OF IRMA AND SOVRIN

Over a decade ago, Kim Cameron and others dreamed of what was called an Internet Identity Layer; it would do for (the exchange of) (identity) data what IPv4 had done for network transport: make sure that all local solutions could live together to form a globally connected infrastructure. could be exchanged throughout the world in the same way.

Much effort has been put in by many to realize this vision, which is currently referred to by the phrase Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI), and which roughly refers to a set of principles that are generally considered the basis on which a next generation of internet applications will exchange (issue, request, and obtain) personal data.

Today, we see tens if not hundreds of initiatives that work with these principles. However, it is still quite difficult to satisfy all of them: Others surveyed some 50 of them, and identified the three that came closest: uPort, IRMA and Sovrin.

In this document we try to compare two of them: IRMA and Sovrin, the purpose of which is to give our audience an idea about what they are about, what the differences are, and where we stand today. The comparison is rather high-level, and touch upon functionality, protocols and maturity.

We conclude that this area is still evolving (and quite rapidly). Quite a few issues remain to be resolved, most of which perhaps are not of a technical nature, but have to do with usability/user friendliness, legal stuff, adoption and the ability and willingness of businesses to transition to this new way of working.

Jelle Nauta, Rieks Joosten
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