SAP is working on a decentralized identification system that could replace password log ons and help usher in Web 3.0. Hear more about the project at SAP Customer Experience LIVE on Tuesday.

SAP developers and innovation experts are working on a password-less digital identity system using highly secure decentralized technology that could provide enormous benefits to consumers and corporate brands.

Still under development, the project would augment SAP’s existing digital identity management offerings and provide significant ease of use, security, and other benefits. “We believe this is a huge opportunity,” says Eugenio Cassiano, chief innovation officer for SAP Customer Experience.

SAP Advantage

While a number of other companies are also working on decentralized digital identity systems, most of them based on the blockchain, SAP believes the 1.7 billion digital identities managed on behalf of customers through SAP Customer Data Cloud solutions, part of the SAP Customer Experience portfolio, gives it a big advantage.

“We plan to launch the project through brands and other organizations, which is our unique way to bring it to a massive adoption,” says SAP’s Rooly Eliezerov, founder of SAP-acquired company Gigya and a foremost industry expert on decentralized IDs.

The system under development would initially require consumers to set up a digital identity online, possibly through a mobile app. Biometric data such as fingerprints, iris scans, or heartbeat profiles would be used to verify the consumer’s identity, which would then be stored on the user’s device only.

Advantages for Consumers

A self-sovereign identity system such as this would have a number of key advantages for consumers, who typically must disclose specific personal information before they can access online services today.

Every time an individual discloses this information, it gets stored on numerous — potentially insecure — internet databases. Since the information contained in a decentralized ID is spread across a number of trusted nodes, rather than stored on a single system database, it would be virtually impossible for a hacker to steal or change a consumer’s identity.

A decentralized ID system would also enable password-less log ons and provide consumers with complete control over personal data that they could choose to disclose — perhaps for a specified period of time in exchange for a service — or keep private. For example, if someone wanted to sign up for a gym class, they might provide the gym operator with access to their medical data for a limited period in order to tailor a workout regime to specific needs.

“We believe there should not be any more ownership of identity,” says Cassiano. “We believe the individual should be in control of his or her own identity and what he wants to distribute or share.”

Advantages for Brands

A decentralized digital ID system would also provide key advantages for brands seeking to offer products or services online. First, they would not need to maintain digital identity management systems. Second, they would automatically be in compliance with privacy directives such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union.

Perhaps most importantly, a permission-based secure digital identity system would enable individual brands or federations of brands to market to consumers who had disclosed particular interests or preferences without the need to know the actual identity of their target audience.

Instead of relying on their own limited data on a potential customer gleaned from a previous interaction or tracking website cookies, brands would have a much fuller picture of customer preferences and be able to offer the consumer a much richer customer experience.

Web 3.0

Overall, Cassiano believes a decentralized digital identity system will be a key feature of the next generation of web services.

“Sooner or later we will move into the so-called decentralized web, or Web 3.0 ,” he says. “That is why we want to have a bridge between what we have today and what things will look like in the future. The potential applications are almost limitless.”

Anja Wilbert, lead for Customer Experience Design for SAP Customer Experience and a member of Cassiano’s team, will provide an outline of the digital identity project during a theater-session at SAP Customer Experience LIVE in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday.