Welcome to a User-Owned Internet: Decentralized Identities Explained

July 5, 2022
4 min read
Welcome to a User-Owned Internet: Decentralized Identities Explained

Consider how often you’re required to prove your identity: signing into separate accounts online, presenting your driver’s license at a bar or passport at the airport, filing forms at the doctor’s office or taking multiple steps with a virtual robot at your bank. The process is tedious and we’re ultimately obliged to relinquish control of our personal data to service providers like Meta and Google.

Now imagine a single identity across the physical and digital world where you have full control over your data. Rather than multiple physical ID cards and passwords, you can claim a unique username held in a digital wallet to securely verify your private credentials as well as revoke them — independent of any entity, organization or institution. That’s the power of decentralized identities or “DIDs.”

Web5 and .btc Decentralized Identities

DIDs have become a hot topic given Jack Dorsey’s recent Web5 announcement, aspiring to create a new ecosystem of Bitcoin DIDs. While the term “web5” is new, the concept of DIDs pre-dates Bitcoin by decades and Bitcoin DIDs themselves have been in circulation for some time.

Bitcoin DIDs “.btc” were first launched in 2014 by Onename, offering a solution to streamline Bitcoin transactions. Rather than using a long wallet address like ‘2EOrpxRdkupgpY5KDENY2hHhybqyaTrVtK’ or scanning QR codes, you can send and receive Bitcoin with a simple username like ‘JohnDoe.btc.’ Today, over 50k usernames have already been snatched up — many proudly displayed across their owner’s Twitter accounts.

Onename has since evolved into Stacks, a full smart contract platform on Bitcoin with DIDs, also known as Blockchain Naming System “BNS,” remaining a core feature. While there are competitors to BNS, including Ethereum Naming System “ENS” and Unstoppable Domains, BNS is built on Bitcoin, the most decentralized, censor-resistant and secure blockchain.

How Can I Claim My .btc Username Today?

To secure a .btc DID, download Xverse wallet app on a mobile device and connect to btc.us using the built-in web browser. Search for the availability of a preferred DID username, and connect your Xverse wallet address to complete the registration and payment. Your DID will be registered through a smart contract on Stacks, permanently written to the Bitcoin blockchain.

Now you can use your DID to send and receive Bitcoin NFTs and STX tokens as well as make transactions through web3 applications like ALEX, Gamma, and Arkadiko. Soon, Xverse users will also be able to use their DIDs to send and receive Bitcoin and even register DIDs directly in Xverse.

The DID itself does not hold any personal information but rather functions like a key. Soon, DID owners will be able to attach their DID to verifiable credentials like diplomas, proof of employment, certifications etc.

Furthermore, the process itself is highly efficient: a single Bitcoin transaction is more than enough to hold millions of .btc DIDs. The blockchain is capable of supporting the entire global population’s credentials.

A Bright Future with Your DID

While DIDs have yet to achieve mainstream adoption, web3 organizations like the Decentralized Identity Foundation are swiftly accelerating technology to offer a user-owned internet. Gone are the days where big tech companies track your activity throughout the internet, sell your data and can block or remove you at any time.

Your DID is the key to streamlining secure transactions, unlocking web3 and owning your digital identity.

About Xverse

Xverse wallet is a non-custodial, crypto mobile wallet for Stacks and Bitcoin available for Android and iOS.

It is your gateway to all Bitcoin web3 applications powered by Stacks.

We have a very active and supportive community so we encourage you to join discord, twitter or reddit if you have any questions, suggestions or if you just want to say hello.

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