A Look at ICON DID Use Cases

The wide-open decentralized ID market is in ICON's grasp.

By now, most people invested in ICON know the primary long-term goal of the project: interoperability. From its inception, ICON has been building a technology to allow disparate blockchains to communicate and transact among one another. That still remains the objective and will for the long-term.

Meanwhile, the ICON project has evolved to a degree – it’s no longer solely focused on interoperability. It’s evolved to accommodate a number of other developments including decentralized applications (DApps), the ongoing development of a security token, and decentralized identification (DID). 

It’s this last category that, over the past few months, has seemingly picked up the most steam.

This week, ICON’s newsletter summarized four current uses of DID, all of which utilize the ICON public chain (and thus require $ICX):

ICONLOOP, the main company behind the ICON project, is bringing enterprise adoption to the ICON Network with Decentralized ID (‘DID’) applications. This week, let’s take a look at 4 Decentralized ID (‘DID’) related projects our team has built or is currently working on.

  1. ‘My-ID’: Bank-grade Digital ID card approved by Korean financial regulators. Imagine being able to carry your Driver’s License or Passport on your mobile phone. The product is being developed with 47 enterprise partners. Uses include opening financial accounts, digital payment with improved verification, and checking into hotel rooms. 
  2. #broof: Digital certificate issuance and verification service that is complementary with ‘My-ID’. The product is being used or live-tested by 15+ customers. Uses include authenticating employment, education degrees, and art pieces.
  3. ‘VisitMe’: Digital guest pass management for enterprise. The product has just entered beta and began live-testing at our very own ICON HQ in Seoul, Korea.
  4. Meeting Room: Room reservation system for enterprise. The product is being used internally by ICONLOOP. The system manages 14 meeting rooms for 150+ employees using ICON’s public blockchain.

In this article, I’ll touch upon each of these and explore the possible market opportunity available for each. 

my-ID

This is likely ICON’s most well-known use of decentralized identification. Simply put, my-ID is the equivalent of having your most important identifying documents (along with others), on your phone at all times, in a manner that can’t be hacked or manipulated due to the fact they are implanted upon a blockchain. This is one of the more obvious use cases for blockchain, but the fact that ICON has received regulatory approval for this technology gives them a key leg up among any potential competitors, at least in Korea.

A few partners in ICONLOOP's my-ID alliance.

Simply put, the market for this use case is basically anyone in South Korea who has some sort of identification. So, basically, every adult.

And this isn’t necessarily an overly optimistic assessment. With 47 partners already on board to implement my-ID in some manner – including a handful of banks (who, debatably, are most reliant on verification), there is certainly a crack in the door to mass adoption. Will it reach beyond Korea? That’s hard to tell at this point. But, with more than 50 million people, the South Korean market alone offers plenty of opportunity.

Broof

Similar to my-ID, instead of identity verification, broof offers document verification. Institutions, such as colleges, can issue documents on broof, allowing recipients to maintain them on their mobile phones, rather than file cabinets.

In this case, the market is essentially any institution that issues documentation that must be 100% authentic. This would certainly include diplomas – which broof is already being used for – but could apply in many other cases as well. For instance, a government entity that issues permits and licenses, an exclusive organization that issues membership credentials, a mechanic issuing a maintenance for a car about to be sold, or a veterinarian issuing vaccination certificates for pet owners.

A broof certificate issued by P-Rep team ICON DAO on the ICON public chain.

In the case of ICONLOOP, they’ve provided employment certificates for their employees:

All ICONLOOP employees can now be verified on the ICON network via #broof. This past week ICONLOOP issued Employment Certificates to all of its employees.

In Korea, employment verification is often necessary, for example, to open a bank account or apply for an apartment. Korea is one of the top ICT counties in the world. But, such verification processes are predominantly paper-based, which has higher chances of fraud.

#broof is to be a complementary product with My-ID to make sure only one digital certification can be tied to one person.”

Just think about how many of these types of documents you encounter in your own life - you likely don’t encounter them every day, but possibly a few times per year. But extrapolate that to a nation of 50 million, and you can see the possibility for broof getting plenty of use on a daily basis in Korea.

VisitMe

ICONists were only made aware of this use of DID a few days ago when it was revealed that this platform was being used for ICONLOOP’s own offices in Seoul, Korea as a security mechanism to grant access only to authorized employees and visitors.

This type of basic technology is already widespread throughout the world - I’m sure you’ve been in a building (or seen one in a movie) that required scanning some sort of ID card to obtain access. From that standpoint, the demand for this type of technology is already in place. The only question is if these companies would prefer an ID system that was easier to administer (no need to print ID cards), and more secure. I think the answer, at least for most of them, would be a resounding “yes.”

As I (half-seriously) tweeted this week, the potential market for this use case is essentially every building in Korea (including apartment complexes and even single-family homes) – if not the world.

Meeting Room

Similar to VisitMe, this is a platform we haven’t learned a whole lot about. It will be interesting to see ICONLOOP articulate use cases for this (presumably, there were enough to create an incentive to build the technology), but we can certainly speculate on our own as well. On the surface, there are plenty of institutions that require reservation systems of some sort – restaurants, hotels, WeWork-style office buildings – but in most cases, the legacy systems in place seem to run well enough, so it may not be immediately obvious as to why this would be necessary.

However, when you take into account ICON’s other platforms listed above – and it’s interoperability – you can start to see how this might work. For instance, a hotel could integrate the Meeting Room platform with both VisitMe and my-ID, allowing a hotel guest to reserve a room, check-in, and scan into their room, all with their phone using the blockchain and DID.

The Takeaway

These four forms of DID – my-ID, broof, VisitMe, and Meeting Room – all have use cases applicable to our daily lives. Whether it’s scanning your driver’s license at a bank to open an account, receiving your diploma via broof, scanning into your office building, or making a reservation at a restaurant, all of these activities could happen in any given day. In a country with a population of 50 million – which is what South Korea has – you can start to see how adoption of these services could lead to explosive adoption, growth, and use of the ICON network and ICX token. 

In fact, it seems that ICON is already generating a lot of the momentum required for mass adoption. Last week, Moneytoday – a widely watched program in Korea – highlighted broof.

On another news channel, News1, “a local investment official told the Korean-language news outlet News1 that ICONLOOP’s aggressive activity and PR work regarding DID, focused on the MyID Alliance, had sparked investor expectations and influenced the spike in the price of ICX,” according to The Iconist.

While it’s hard to tell if that’s what’s actually causing the price increase (Min Kim had other suggestions), it’s nonetheless nice to see such attention given to ICON’s DID efforts.

Meanwhile, the regulatory approval granted to ICON isn’t the only thing that gives them an edge over would-be competitors. By offering a package of multiple services (and developing an interoperable network to sync them together), ICON has an additional leg up on potential competitors. A university may adopt broof for issuing diplomas. When they decide to upgrade their security systems across campus – for instance, students scanning into their dorms – ICON will already have a foot in the door as an existing and reliable service provider of a similar technology. This only helps their prospects for explosive growth. 

Clearly, ICON is carving out a nice path for itself just in the DID sector. Success in this category alone could mean great things for all ICONists - and, remember, this is just a spinoff of ICON’s true objective: global interoperability.