Microsoft Builds Decentralized Identity Network Atop Bitcoin Blockchain

Microsoft is building a decentralized identity (DID) network atop of the bitcoin blockchain, the tech giant announced on May 13.

In a blog post, the company said the infrastructure, known as the Identity Overlay Network (ION,) is based on an evolving set of open standards developed in conjunction with the Decentralized Identity Foundation.

Microsoft claims its approach addresses throughput issues that mean “the most robust, decentralized, public blockchains operate at just tens of transactions per second, nowhere near the volume a world full of DIDs would demand.” By contrast, the company says its approach means tens of thousands of operations can be achieved per second. In explaining the rationale behind ION, the blog post added:

“We believe every person needs a decentralized, digital identity they own and control, backed by self-owned identifiers that enable secure, privacy preserving interactions. This self-owned identity must seamlessly integrate into their lives and put them at the center of everything they do in the digital world.”

Daniel Buchner, a program manager for the Microsoft Identity team, said the goal of decentralized networks is to remove the control that apps, services and organizations have over digital identifiers such as email addresses and usernames.

Microsoft aims to create an ecosystem where “billions of people and countless devices can securely interact over an interoperable system built on standards and open-source components.”

Microsoft added that it plans to collaborate with open-source contributors so ION can publicly launch on the bitcoin mainnet in the coming months.

Technology that gives users greater control over their digital identities is gaining traction, with PayPal investing in such a startup last month.

ION is far from Microsoft’s first blockchain initiative. Earlier this month, it released a new Azure Blockchain Development Kit for the Ethereum blockchain, with Starbucks implementing this service to track coffee production.

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