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South Korean banks jump on self-sovereign identity bandwagon

Ben Munster


Four large South Korean banks have signed onto a decentralized identity initiative, according to Coindesk. 

The blockchain-based “DID Association,” launched in July, now counts lenders Shinhan and NH Nonghyup, as well as BC Card and Hyundai Card, among its eleven supporters. 

Backed by the South Korean Ministry of Science and the Korean Internet and Security Agency, the project aims to surely store personal data via a mobile app. Students will be among the first to trial the software, in the form of digitized college certificates across six South Korean universities. Blockchain-ified loan applications will follow. 

So-called identity solutions aim to disrupt the hegemony that a select few tech giants exercise over users’ personal data—”walled gardens” of siloed data force users to over-rely on apps like Facebook and Google, through whose interfaces most applications tend to run. 

Blockchain-based systems that enable users to provide permissioned access to their data have been floated as an alternative, by the likes of startups Civic, Everest and the PayPal-backed Cambridge Blockchain. Politicians have got in on the act, too, with Democrat Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang advocating for data as a property right, and the Catalan separatist movement launching its own IdentiCAT self-sovereign identity—though given the unrest in the region it’s likely that IdentiCAT isn’t top of their list of priorities.

The DID Association might stand a better chance of gaining mainstream adoption—the new supporters joins the likes of Samsung and three large South Korean mobile carriers, SK Telecom, KT and LG U+.