Latest news on decentralized identity in Korea (Apr 23, 2021) — Decentralized Identity Projects by the Korean Government Funding
Decentralized Identity projects to be supported by Korean Government funding
The Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) Blockchain Promotion Director revealed the current status of the KISA blockchain pilot projects during a conference titled ‘Digital Economy Innovating with Blockchain’ that was held on April 8th.
The KISA Blockchain Pilot Projects are projects that aim at discovering new blockchain services and demonstrate the efficiency of this technology fostered by the KISA (a Ministry of Science and ICT’s sub-organization). To do so, KISA provided a total of KRW 11.4 billion (about USD 10.2 million) with investments capped at KRW 600 million (about USD 0.5 million) per projects. Between January and February of this year, 19 projects have been selected among 55 applications. Decentralized Identity-related projects have been selected among these projects. It is noteworthy that among the applications received, 28 out of 55 were related to the decentralized identity area and in particular, various applications were proposing the development of decentralized identity-based vaccine passports.
The KISA is in charge of the blockchain business at a national level and the Blockchain Pilot Projects initiative follows the Korean government’s strategy to expand blockchain technology by investing in related projects about KRW 120 billion (about USD 107 million) over the next five years.
Our view: In Korea, the government is one of the main propellers of innovation, enabling the country to be among the most innovative worldwide. The ranking of the last global innovation index provided by Bloomberg reflects it as Korea occupies the first place in this index. Among the innovation that the government is nurturing, blockchain and its application play a major role and we believe that in the next five years, this trend will continue supported by the public budget. In this regard, Decentralized Identity projects should continue to flourish in Korea while looking for interoperability so that end-users experience is not hindered.
Korean government embracing Decentralized Identity
2021 seems to be the year of Decentralized Identity for the Korean Government. The latter is planning to implement related technologies to improve a variety of areas. In this regard, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety introduced Decentralized Identity in January 2021 through a pilot project aiming at deploying DID on a mobile public official’s ID card issuance service developed in collaboration with RaonSecure. This is the first step in the government’s national digital ID card project (and it leverages DID 😊). For the time being, it’s being used by over 15,000 government officials working at the Sejong City Government Complex and the Seoul Government Complex but It’s targeting about 200,000 public officials working in other public agencies in the near future. If this use case is a success, the Ministry of the Interior and Safety plans to expand the application of DID to driver’s license on a trial basis within the year. The next step consists of extending the digitization of national IDs by rolling out the disabled registration card and youth card in the form of digital credentials by 2025.
Vaccine passports are also a promising field for application of Decentralized Identity technology. As mentioned above, the KDCA plans to release a ‘Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate’ that implements a decentralized identity technology. The Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) is also pushing for its adoption and in particular, for the implementation of the W3C DID to the ‘digital vaccination certification service’ announced by the KDCA.
MyData is another area where Decentralized Identity is expected to play a role. In particular, the development of ‘Personal Data Storage (PDS)’, which is one of the core components of My Data ‘s ecosystem and of the government’s MyData business (enabling companies to leverage financial data to build tailor-made solutions). If the number of private-led PDS platforms increases, the industry predicts that the deployment of Decentralized Identity technology for data stability will increase accordingly.
Our view: with the multiplication of use cases linked to decentralized identity, the technology is increasingly getting accepted in Korea. It is noteworthy that the adoption of Decentralized Identity seems to be the result of a “Top-Down approach” where the technology is being first deployed by the government in its internal process before being (probably) deployed in the Korean society. Such approach could serve as a model providing a proof that a shift in a human-centric identity paradigm is possible.
Some figures about the Decentralized Identity industry in Korea
The blockchain-based Decentralized Identity market is rapidly growing in a time when non-face-to-face identification means are being increasingly used. According to Fortune Business Insights, the size of the Decentralized Identity authentication market is expected to grow 2.5 times from KRW 12 trillion (about USD 11 million) in 2021 to KRW 30 trillion (about USD 27 million) in 2025. On the other hand, the Market research firm Zion Market Research predicts that the global blockchain-based identity market will grow at an annual average of 80%, reaching 3,454 billion dollars in 2024. In Korea, Decentralized Identity has been booming as reflected by a study from the Korean Intellectual Property Office. According to this public institution, the number of patent applications for future-type authentication technologies increased from 123 in 2015 to 222 last year, an annual average increase of 16%. In particular, the number of patent applications for Decentralized Identity technology surged from 14 in 2019 to 36 as of September 2020.
Our view: Decentralized Identity is a flourishing sector in Korea not only in terms of business but also in terms of technology. The increasing number of IP related to this technology provides a clue that Korea is currently a ‘living decentralized identity laboratory’.
Stay tuned for more updates on the progress of Decentralized Identity in Korea 😊