Identity theft is an ongoing problem, and no amount of paperwork seems to provide enough security. Companies already form digital identities for consumers by using their various Internet interactions. Advocates of blockchain believe that the technology could bring the perfect balance to these issues and allow people to have peace of mind about their identities again.
While cryptocurrencies get all of the attention these days, data is the true currency of the new world. Numerous companies make substantial profit by selling any data they collect during interactions with their customers to other organizations. Naturally, nobody is very comfortable with this. According to a Pew study in 2014, 81 percent of users said they felt “not very” or “not at all secure” sharing personal information through social media sites.
Blockchain could change this practice by acting as a secure data point which allows people to encrypt their personal information and release specific parts of it when relevant. For instance, when purchasing alcohol, customers could provide the vendor with their age without sharing the rest of the details on their driver’s license or other identification document.
Passports, social security cards, and certificates for birth and death all act as great material for identity thieves to get their hands on. Not only could blockchain keep records more secure and reliable, but it could also make the actual identity information more convenient and accessible to the person to whom it belongs. Eventually, blockchain could be the only form of identification that one needs.
But, as is the case with many disruptive technologies, whether blockchain is successful as a solution to maintaining personal identities largely depends on the public's willingness to embrace it. Timing is crucial to introducing new technology. Considering that blockchain is still in its infancy and only now beginning to move into other areas outside of finance, a large-scale implementation of an ID system using this technology probably wouldn’t occur for a few more years. By then, hopefully the public will be open to a new digital way of seeing themselves, especially if it means they get to preserve who they are.