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Metaverse will move the goal posts for ID verification

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The third version of the Internet, Web3, turns the identity verification model on its head. Today, we operate in the world of centralized services. For most online transactions, we pass through an intermediary that, among other things, certifies our legality, nationality, financial health and other relevant characteristics.

Web3 changes all that. Web3 is dominated by open source technology, Web3 will take advantage of distributed architecture or blockchain to make the Internet unreliable and unauthorized. In the metaverse, virtual reality platforms built on the principles of Web3 decentralization will give citizens direct access to what they want without an intermediary.

What does this have to do with public services? In the metaverse, complete control over how the identity is expressed, seen, and verified belongs to the component. Users will decide which entities they can “see”, how much they can see, for what purposes and for how long. When this happens, all legacy intermediaries – including government agencies – will have to adapt new processes.

3 developing trends to explore today

To prepare for this decentralized future, agencies should begin to consider and explore the following possibilities:

  • The evolution of authentication methods. Web1 relied primarily on passwords to access online experiences; Web2 has added new methods, such as two-factor authentication and OAuth (for example, “Sign in with Google”). Web3 technologies will likely rely on blockchain technology to allow people – or more realistically, their avatars – in virtual experiences. These experiences can be anything from applying for a student loan to participating in a local city council. The use, storage, and sharing of sovereign self-identity are rapidly evolving concepts to investigate.
  • encryption transactions. Some agencies, especially those in the lending space, are already familiar with the many sloping ways of cryptocurrency transactions thanks to long-standing regulations designed to prevent improper payments. However, the coin is just one example of what is sure to be many crypto-based assets in the future, including token ballots. Already, we are seeing local governments testing blockchain technology for mobile voting.
  • Virtual experiences. In the metaverse, users are no longer in front of the screen; They are in it. It’s complex enough to verify identities in the Web2 world. Fraudsters, scammers, and even well-meaning innovators who lack adequate data security and privacy controls pose new threats to personally identifiable information. Layer on Web3’s sovereign self-identities, and the need for the next level of education and personal overprotection becomes apparent.

Web3 is not far

If Web3 seems too remote to allocate resources today, consider how quickly things can move. Many virtual concepts and systems that will stand in the metaverse have been democratized while work and schools are closed due to the pandemic. Students, citizens, and workers participated in this online ecosystem more fully than anyone could have expected. Sometimes they did it safely; sometimes not. Identity data is too weak in the wilds of hybrid interaction.

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It’s also worth taking the time to investigate some of today’s nascent Web3 providers. They may be remembered as flashes in the virtual pan, but others may be Google or Amazon tomorrow.

Studying and exploring these providers and their technologies will look different for each agency. However, the goal should be to get as much tactile experience as possible. Sign up for a digital wallet and deal with cryptocurrencies. Try a virtual reality headset and play with avatars. Hire legacy identity experts and developers who have taught the self-taught metaverse to brainstorm early use cases and technologies the agency might now incorporate.

When possible, ingredients should be included in the research. By exploring Web3 and engaging components on that journey, confidence in the collective readiness for the Internet’s next iteration will undoubtedly grow. In a world where the possibilities are endless, every dream can be fulfilled and every fantasy is like reality, trust will become the most important asset of every agency.

Al Pascual is Senior Vice President, Enterprise Risk Solutions for Sontiq, a TransUnion company.

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