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Our Product Vision for 2024 at cheqd

Dive deep into our plans to execute the cheqd vision for Decentralised Identity through our 2024 Product Goals & Roadmap.

Co-authored by Ross Power, Alex Tweddale, and Ankur Banerjee.

🚀 Our product roadmap for cheqd & Creds

As our third year gets underway, we’re reflecting on the progress we’ve made so far, and what’s to come. 2024 marks a shift towards offering productised services that are easy to engage with and provide a quick Return on Investment (ROI) for our customers. All of this is in pursuit of our ultimate vision for individuals to have full control over their data, executed through our mission of catalysing the industry by enabling commercial models that work for all and stick around!

Our network functionality and tooling offer developers and customers the ability to solve real-world problems in the market, with a one-of-a-kind ability to charge for digital credential exchange. Our Software Development Kits (SDKs) and Credential Service SaaS product are enterprise-ready with builders leveraging them for high-volume real-world use cases. Lastly, Creds.xyz — our community-centred reputation app — is in general availability and offers communities a whole new model for trust, loyalty, reputation and rewards.

In this blog we’ll touch on each of these three product areas and focus on specific outcomes they enable for users, builders and of course our community. We’re continuing to offer transparency with our intentions, this year launching a Product Roadmap page on our website.

🎯 2024 Product Development Goals

We’re centring ourselves this year around 5 central workstreams and six core Product Development Goals that we believe offer the best route to adoption, usage of our products, retention and ultimately growth of Decentralised Identity as a whole. This year, we aim to take our vision of a world where individuals have control over their data and make it tangible.

Experimental

We’ll start off with an insight into our Experimental use cases: industry verticals such as artificial intelligence and others, where we believe digital credentials can have a transformative impact. 

Network & Tokenomics

  1. Improve the tokenomics & functionality, to enable a more vibrant CHEQ ecosystem

Ecosystem & Standards

      2.  Keep up-to-date with our standards and industry best practices to maintain product differentiation, and support our ecosystem builders

Credential Service

      3.  Enhance Credential Service with a dashboard, feature additions and new regulated payment schemes

Creds

      4.  Enable Collectors to collect and earn more credentials through the aggregation of disparate data sources

      5.  Serve insights to Creators to enable the creation of tailored experiences and personalised products & service offerings for their Collectors

Offer Collectors opportunities to use their credentials

🧪Experimental

We introduced this section on “Experimental” in our roadmap to talk about use cases which are outside the traditional scope of decentralised identity projects, where we think there’s a lot of value that digital credentials can bring.

💬 Trust in the Age of Generative AI

Generative AI (“Gen AI”) is the fastest-growing technology in history. McKinsey estimates that Gen AI could add $2.6-4.4 trillion in economic benefits annually across various industry sectors. Despite its vast potential, the rise of Gen AI has sparked concerns over the reliability of online content. This is due to incidents like deepfake CFOs scamming a company out of millions, sites like OnlyFakes that churn out realistic-looking fake IDs, and deepfakes of Taylor Swift that caused controversies on X/Twitter and attracted the attention of regulators.

Digital credentials are already being used to combat this, such as Open AI adding verifiable “Content Credentials” to images generated by the DALL-E 3 model. We believe that Gen AI will become one of the largest real-world applications of Verifiable Credential technology, and with cheqd’s industry-leading decentralised ID features, we’re poised to capture a large portion of this emerging market.

Use cases that we’re actively exploring on applying credentials to Gen AI include:

  1. Proof-of-personhood: As given in the examples of deepfakes above, digital platforms will need to start distinguishing bot/generated profiles from real humans, essentially replacing CAPTCHAs with digital credentials. They might need basic proof-of-personhood (“Is this visitor a human?”), which platforms like Creds.xyz can provide; or higher levels of confidence, which might be zero-knowledge credentials derived from social/KYC credentials.

  2. Providing provenance for training datasets: Training datasets used to train AI models can be a factor in how much bias the model has, as well as how well it performs. Furthermore, there are concerns about whether the model has been trained on copyrighted data, which is currently the subject of lawsuits and interest from regulators in the EU and the UK. This makes models such as Adobe Firefly, with come with assurances that they are only trained on properly-licensed data more desirable. We believe that more AI developers will devote attention and resources to what data their models have been trained on, where Verifiable Credentials offer an interoperable standard for capturing these details.

  3. Assurance & compliance after a model has been trained: Once a model has been trained, whether it be for Gen AI image models (like DALL-E, Midjourney) or text models (like GPT-4, Gemini, LLaMA), or even non-LLM AI models, developers could prove that their models meet compliance requirements using Verifiable Credentials, similar to a content credential. Factors such as environmental footprint, lack of bias, performance benchmarks/leaderboards, etc. This will become more relevant as regulations such as the EU AI Act (or equivalents) take effect around the world.

  4. Verified decentralised compute for training models: Cloud providers have centralised the compute behind a lot of the early large language models (LLMs), e.g., Microsoft Azure with Open AI, Google with Gemini/Bard, etc. There’s an emerging movement to not cede more ground to centralised providers, and to instead train LLMs on the edge, or decentralised compute platforms (such as Akash). Verified decentralised hardware specifications on such platforms can provide assurance when training and running foundational models on the capabilities of the platform they plan on using.

As Gen AI continues to evolve rapidly, we remain committed to exploring new ways to leverage our technology for creating Verifiable AI. We aim to enhance trust among users, developers, enterprises, and regulators by ensuring the integrity and reliability of AI-generated content.

🍪 Personalisation in the post “tracking cookie” world

Most tracking and personalisation that people find icky with their current online experience originates from tracking cookies: pieces of code inserted by large ad networks and tech companies (such as Google, Meta) that “phone home” and report your every move. However, the time has come for long-running efforts to remove this privacy-leaking technology as Google Chrome gradually kills support for tracking cookies in 2024.

This provides an opening for cheqd to build experiences that solve the personalisation paradox: people want the experiences they have online to be more personalised and yet are often “creeped out” by the technology (such as tracking cookies). A 2021 survey found that  57% of those polled said, “I don’t want my personal data being used to target me with any ads, either commercial or political”, and only 11% were OK with it.

We go into detail later in this blog post on how our ambition is to allow credential holders (such as Creds.xyz Collectors) to aggregate all of their Web 2.0 and Web3 data in a single identity wallet, in their control. Once the data is in this wallet, we want to offer secure and flexible APIs in Creds.xyz that allow users to only reveal as much data as they want to and for developers to consume these APIs for privacy-preserving personalisation.

Our design principles for these will be to make the APIs flexible (so that developers can remix and build rich applications) like Zapier and If This Then That (IFTTT); while being secure yet user-friendly in the way that apps like WhatsApp and 1Password are. Based on product research, we would like to explore applications in adtech and other forms of rich experiences where users, tech industry changes (like tracking cookies going away), and regulations call for new solutions.

Network & Tokenomics

1️⃣ Enhance cheqd Network through tokenomics improvements and additional identity functionality through ecosystem integrations 

Across 2024, we’ll be continuously making improvements to the cheqd network itself to further boost network tokenomics, performance and functionality.

First, we’ll start with a major chain upgrade to the Cosmos SDK v0.47 family to improve the experience of using cheqd with the latest Cosmos features. This upgrade also allows us to support cross-chain credential proofs, with the help of Nymlab, to enable other Cosmos SDK chains to leverage credentials in their apps

We’ll also be introducing further mechanisms to increase network tokenomics — to enable better returns to both stakers and the cheqd treasury itself, to maintain our ability to keep building and growing.

Major evolution of on-chain/off-chain messaging via ABCI++ will allow credentials to be natively used by Cosmos chains for their execution logic

Roadmap items to look out on this topic include generating internal revenues through Skip MEV,  introducing an EIP-1559 style burn to counterweight inflation more effectively, and Cosmos SDK v0.50 which enables ABCI++ which enables a tighter coupling between the consensus layer and the app layer. We are also planning to add support for fee abstraction for network transactions in other Cosmos tokens to enable DeFi settlement layers and payment models, such as Cosmos-native USDC by Noble, EURC, etc. 

Ecosystem & Standards

2️⃣ Keep up-to-date with standards and industry best practices to maintain product differentiation

In 2023, the European Union formally approved eIDAS 2.0, updating regulations on decentralized identity. The amendment introduced provisions for digital credentials, identity wallets, and electronic ledgers as trust service providers. Significantly, it mandates that “Very Large Online Platformsmust accept digital identity wallets for user authentication, paving the way for widespread adoption.

Crucially for cheqd, the eIDAS amendment also recognises “electronic ledgers” as a tool for establishing trust in an identity system and provides the skeleton for a framework around “qualified electronic ledgers”. Additionally, it introduces an Architecture and Reference Framework with standards for interoperability among eIDAS 2.0 wallets and credential platforms.

European Architecture and Reference Framework Protocols for Credentials

At cheqd, the eIDAS 2.0 amendment’s focus on Electronic Ledgers outlines our roadmap for adopting standards and protocols essential for EU-wide interoperability. In 2024, our goal is to fully support OpenID for Verifiable Credential (OIDC4VC) protocol and Selective Disclosure JWT credentials. This approach will allow credentials anchored on cheqd’s DID to be issued and verified through any EU-compliant digital identity wallet.

Progress on this front is advancing rapidly. Animo Solutions, a key partner, has integrated cheqd support into Credo (formerly known as Aries Framework JavaScript). Walt.id has launched their “Community Stack” with embedded cheqd support, aligning with EU standards and protocols. Moreover, Sphereon has forked Veramo SDK to include these standards, and we will look to include cheqd support here over the coming months.

Throughout 2024, we will maintain close alignment with the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI). Our focus will be on ensuring compliance with any further regulations needed to become a “Qualified Electronic Ledger.” This status will affirm the uniqueness, authenticity, and proper sequencing of DIDs and DID-Linked Resources.

Credential Service

3️⃣ Enhance Credential Service with a dashboard, feature additions and new regulated payment schemes

We’re thrilled to share that in the upcoming months, we’ll be upgrading our Credential Service with fresh branding and a new user interface! Thanks to our latest partnerships with FinClusive, Verida, and Nexera ID, there’s a growing interest and uptake in Credential Service that we aim to leverage.

Illustrative dashboard for Credential Service (note: the name is a placeholder)

Key to our efforts is simplifying integration for developers by providing ways to generate permanent and easily manageable API keys. We want to enable our customers to manage authorisations, roles and permissions for accessing different APIs within their organisation. These enhancements will make Credential Service even more enterprise-ready and foster the growth of verifiable credential adoption.

This year also marks the integration of our Credential Service APIs into Creds.xyz, facilitating payments for Creds verifications with $CHEQ or for “purchasing” credentials. This move aims to enhance $CHEQ’s utility in trust-building and extend credential payment uses within the broader Web3 ecosystem.

An illustrative example of regulated payment schemes

The latter half of 2023 saw considerable interest in how credential payments could serve large, regulated sectors, particularly in “regulated payment schemes“. We’re exploring innovative payment pathways through regulated intermediaries to mitigate risks and ensure compliance, alongside leveraging $CHEQ for on-ledger payments as a reliable settlement method in enterprise contexts.

<Read more about Payment Schemes here>

Creds.xyz

As Creds.xyz is a two-sided marketplace for credential issuance and collection, it’s worth a reminder on the users involved: Creators refer to organisations/individuals using the Creator Studio to build, issue and manage credentials; Collectors are individual community members or recipients of these credentials, interacting via the Creds App

4️⃣ Enable Collectors to collect and earn more credentials through the aggregation of disparate data sources

In a world teeming with data, much of it remains fragmented, siloed, and underutilised, particularly for the individual. NordPass’s 2023 study reveals an average user juggles 100 passwords, hinting at numerous disjointed accounts — a testament to the web’s fragmented reality. The last three decades have seen our digital identities expand, with vast amounts of personal data collected, often beyond our control or knowledge. This data defines us yet is scattered and seldom leveraged for our benefit, more often exploited.

The proliferation of personal data online heightens the risk of misuse and privacy breaches. The rise of AI heightens awareness of these dangers, underscored by Deutsche Telekom’s 2023 harrowing advert on online privacy harms.

Imagine consolidating all your personal data within a single, secure, and decentralized identity wallet, empowering you to decide what to share and how. This vision aims to simplify data aggregation while prioritizing privacy and autonomy.

Image showing how Creds aggregates data into a high level of assurance proof

To achieve this, we’re enhancing Creds.xyz with new functionalities and opening it to external developers, enabling them to create tailored, programmatic credential issuance. Partnerships with data connectors like Reclaim Protocol will facilitate the aggregation of Web 2.0 data into Creds.xyz wallets. We’re focused on enriching wallet data quality and reliability through partnerships, introducing proof-of-personhood and KYC credentials to ensure users are genuine (and not bots/sybils), and supporting creators and developers in identifying authentic users.

Re-usable KYC credentials with Verida and FinClusive

By bringing together diverse personal data, we can help Collectors create a comprehensive dataset — richer and more informative than the sum of its parts — yet still under their control, shared only with their consent (e.g. within their user profile or a share link).

If you’re seeking specific Creds within Creds.xyz, or if you’re a data provider with valuable, privacy-respecting offerings, we’re all ears! Your input is crucial in shaping a wallet that’s truly user-centric.

5️⃣ Enable Creators to build journeys to gain insights into their members, so they can offer more personalised experiences, products & service offerings for their Collectors

Web3 community growth often relies on airdrops to reward members, aiming to boost engagement and loyalty. While effective for short-term metrics like social media growth, this strategy’s benefits are fleeting and can be counterproductive.

Research from Messari indicates selling airdropped tokens is three times as lucrative than holding them, attracting ‘airdrop hunters’ more interested in profits than the project’s mission. This was a tough lesson learned from our initial airdrop experience. Nonetheless, airdrops can attract genuinely interested members, rewarding superfans, supporting bug bounties, and fostering community governance and decentralization.

Analytics and Quests/Campaign tools will give Creators better insights into their community, and allow them to build more personalised experiences

Addressing this, Creds.xyz will offer Creators customisable Quests and Campaigns, rewarding long-term engagement and allowing members to personalize their loyalty rewards. Tools like Galxe and Zealy incentivize engagement effectively, yet assessing community members’ commitment versus reward-chasing is challenging. Creds.xyz aims to differentiate by offering analytics & visualisation tools for Creators to gain insights into their audience, from demographics to preferences, while respecting privacy.

This approach complements Collectors’ use of their credentials, emphasizing the value and control over their personal data. 

6️⃣ Offer Collectors opportunities to use their credentials

At cheqd, our core belief is in individuals’ rights to control and utilize their data. Creds is our platform to empower Collectors with the ability to accumulate and use their Creds effectively.

We see 3 core ways Collectors will be able to use their credentials, whilst offering benefits to the Creators in parallel;

  1. Enable personalised experiences to active community members
Flywheel of community engagement through Creds.xyz

This has largely been covered in goal five, however, this description is geared more around how the Collector benefits. By participating in a Creators’ quests/campaigns, Collectors gain personalized experiences by engaging in quests/campaigns, enriching interactions based on their profiles.

      2.  Offer a new route to build their personal brand and reputation, with control over who sees what…

Multiple public-facing Creds.xyz profiles to show off different facets of your personality

Collectors can build and control their personal brand, displaying their achievements across multiple profiles tailored for different audiences, such as professional or Web3 communities. This will allow individuals to curate an online personal brand: for example, you may have a professional profile for job applications; a ‘degen’ profile for Web3 community engagement (e.g., flex that they are a token whale or a given project,  without revealing their wallet address); a sports & lifestyle profile, for personal and so on…

      3.  Engaging in governance using Creds 

In several conversations, our partners and prospects have shared insights that they find the proof-of-stake approach to governance sometimes restrictive. In most governance platforms, it is impossible to restrict either creating an on-chain proposal or voting on a proposal to specific people or users. You can do so to a wallet address, but it’s common for users to have separate wallets for governance and holding to provide anonymity.

Example of how Creds can be used to customise governance voting weights

Our goal is to demonstrate the potential of credentials in transforming governance models. By leveraging off-chain credentials through Creds.xyz APIs and integrating them into the voting process using the next-generation Cosmos SDK’s ABCI++ framework, we could enable a more nuanced approach to voter participation. This method allows communities to define voting eligibility and influence programmatically, based on the credentials verified by voters. Such a system could enable differential voting weights, favouring not just stakers but also recognizing the contributions of members with significant reputations, regardless of their staking power.

🤝 Conclusion & Next Steps

As we head into 2024, Credential Service and Creds are at the forefront of driving adoption in digital trust, reputation, KYC, and data exchange. Positioned to leverage emerging markets and upcoming regulations, we’re excited for the road ahead.

We’re deeply proud of our progress and grateful for our team, developers, ambassadors, and community. Your support fuels our growth and innovation. Thank you for being with us on this journey.

Stay connected, share your insights, and help us shape the future of digital credentials. Here’s to exploring the vast opportunities of 2024 together!

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