Product update

Rendering credentials in a human-friendly way

Nader Helmy • Jul 2, 2021 • 4 min read

At MATTR we’re always dreaming up ways to make decentralised identity and verifiable credentials easy and intuitive to use for as many people as possible.

From the start, it’s been a core part of our mission to make sure that end users understand the implications of decentralised identity and the control it affords them over their data and their privacy. This model offers users greater sovereignty over their own information by empowering individuals as both the holder and subject of information that pertains to them. Users are able to exercise their new role in this ecosystem by utilizing a new class of software known as digital wallets.

We first released our Mobile Wallet for smartphones in June 2020, with a simple user interface to allow people to interact with and receive credentials from issuers as well as present credentials to relying parties. In the interim, we have developed a number of improvements and features to the Mobile Wallet to support advanced capabilities such as:

  • Authenticating to Identity Providers over OpenID Connect to receive credentials via OIDC Bridge
  • Deriving privacy-preserving selective disclosure presentations from credentials using BBS+ signatures
  • Establishing a secure DID messaging inbox for users to receive encrypted messages and push notifications

These changes have not only made the wallet more functional; they’ve also evolved to better protect users’ best interests — giving them privacy-by-design and surfacing the information and context that they need to confidently make decisions underpinned by the security of decentralised identity.

Timeline of MATTR wallet development

This journey has led us to realise the importance of creating a wallet experience that places users front and center. As these systems create more opportunity for user-driven consent and identity management, they’ve simultaneously created a demand for a wallet that can not only perform the technical operations required, but do so in a user-friendly way that surfaces the information that truly matters to people. Our latest feature release to the MATTR Mobile Wallet is a step in this direction.

With Human-Friendly Credentials, we have added the capability to render different kinds of credentials uniquely in the wallet interface according to the information they contain. Until now, the end user experience for verifiable credentials has been largely consistent across different categories of credentials and issuers. In other words, a credential containing medical data from your doctor looks exactly the same as an education credential from your university or a concert ticket from a music venue: they all appear to the user as a long list of claims.

In this release we change that. Thanks to the semantic information encoded in verifiable credentials, the wallet is now able to understand and interpret certain kinds of credentials to render them to the user in a way that makes the data easier to understand.

JSON-LD verifiable credentials have the ability to support common data vocabularies and schemas which are published on the web. For example, if a credential contains a claim describing the name of an individual, the claim can be defined via reference to an existing data vocabulary found here:

Human-Friendly Credentials allow the wallet to start intelligently displaying known credential types and data types. This shows up in a variety of different ways in a user’s dataset.

For example, this update formats address fields to make them more readable; formats names and proper nouns where possible; makes URLs, telephone numbers and email addresses clickable; highlights images and icons for better trust and brand signaling; and creates basic rules for language localization that adjust to a user’s device settings. This logic allows the wallet to create a kind of information hierarchy that starts to draw out the important aspects of data included in a credential, so users can make trust-based decisions using this information.

These rules are applied to any kind of credential the wallet encounters. Whilst all of this is incredibly helpful for users, we have gone a step further: displaying entire credentials in a completely unique UI according to their type. The ‘type’ property of a credential expresses what kind of information is in the credential — is it a degree, a medical record, a utility bill? The usage of common credential types across different implementations and ecosystems is necessary for semantic interoperability on the broader scale. The wallet should be able to recognise these common credential types and display them to the user in a friendly way.

In this update, we have added custom rendering for both Personal Identity Credentials as well as Education Courses. These are common types we see occurring naturally across the decentralised identity landscape, and now the MATTR Mobile Wallet is able to recognise and display them properly.

Personal Identity Credentials and Education Course credentials

An important note to consider is that Human-Friendly Credentials only work for known data and credential types. As the ecosystem matures, we expect to add more data types and credential types in the future to support an even broader set of human-related processes and actions. In a general sense, we will also continue to iterate on our digital wallet offerings to provide a greater degree of flexibility and control for end users. We believe it’s a vital component to a healthy digital trust ecosystem.

To check out these changes yourself, download the latest version of our Mobile Wallet to get started.

For more information on Human-Friendly Credentials, check out our tutorials and video content on MATTR Learn.

This blog was originally posted on Medium.

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