Introducing Passcards, Your Digital Identity

A while back, we released the first comprehensive blockchain-based identity service that quickly garnered tens of thousands of users, each with their own profiles registered on the blockchain. Until now, though, user profiles were just that - profiles. Today, we’re giving the user profiles more meaning and power, something that you could truly call your personal digital identity.

We're calling them passcards and they’re much more than profiles.

Passcard design

Passcards, your all access pass to everything

Currently, passwords help you access your online life just like your wallet and keys help you access your physical life. At a high level, passwords, identity cards, and keys are all forms of access control. Want to enter a bar? Show an identity card that says that you're over 21. Want to access your Twitter account? Login with the username/password that you used to signup. Want to enter your home? Use the key that unlocks the door.

Passcards are a digital form of identity and access control designed to initially replace passwords, and in the future, replace forms of physical identification like passports and driver's licenses. You'll be able to use it to enter your apartment or your office and when asked to present identification in an in-person context. The future of identity is here.

Your passcard is your identity that you truly own. It is open source, secured by the blockchain, and open for anyone to participate in. There are no walled gardens, and you can signup using any “registrar”, including Onename, which is also actively participating in the development of this technology.

We have an open-source site, where you can explore passcard documentation and design, and the names and concepts we’re describing in this announcement are a result of thoughtful deliberation by the community.

Embedding Passcards on your Website or Blog

With our new tool, you can embed your passcard on your website and proudly display your blockchain identity. You can embed it on your team page like OpenBazaar or on your personal website or blog like Fred Wilson.

Underlying Technology

Passcards are built on a revolutionary new blockchain technology called the Blockchain Name System (formerly Openname). The Blockchain Name System (BNS for short) is very similar to the Domain Name System (DNS), but it gives stronger guarantees on ownership and security, there are no trusted parties or "root servers", and it's completely decentralized.

blockchain name system

The Blockchain Name System is composed of several layers. At the bottom layer, raw identity data corresponding to user passcards is stored in a decentralized (usually blockchain-based) key-value store like Namecoin or Blockstore. In the middle layer, resolvers read, interpret, and verify data from the datastore and make it readily accessible to services. In the top layer, passcard galleries grab data from resolvers and render it into a visual format.

More details about BNS will be available in a future post, but in the meantime, we encourage developers to check out the documentation and code and help us build out this next-generation infrastructure layer for the Internet.