Ping Identity lays out personal identity management vision with ShoCard acquisition

ShoCard’s blockchain-based technology, which will be integrated into the Ping Intelligent Identity Platform, creates an identity wallet which gives the user more granular control over the identity information they surrender in digital transactions.

Derick Townsend, VP of Product and Solutions Marketing at Ping Identity

Today, enterprise Identity and Access Management [IAM] vendor Ping Identity is announcing the acquisition of personal identity management vendor ShoCard. The company says that the move defines its view of where the ability of end users to control their personal details and privacy in their relationship with organizations is headed. They believe the deal will give them a first mover advantage in the area.

“This is the next step for our vision in terms of where we are headed,” said Derick Townsend, VP of Product and Solutions Marketing at Ping Identity.

Personal identity – or self-sovereign identity, as the analysts classify it – is about an individual controlling access to their identity in their relationship with organizations like service providers.

“Now, things are flipped on its head, where end users surrender their personal identity data and have to trust a third party will be good stewards,” Townsend stated. “Personal identity is about providing an organization just the information necessary to conduct an individual’s specific business with them, so now they don’t have to provide that additional information.”

ShoCard has done this by leveraging blockchain technology to create an identity wallet that contains sharable, validated claims that an individual can elect to share, and thus be in control of the personal details they disclose.

“It turns the model around so that everything sensitive you care about is stored in a digital device on the blockchain,” Townsend said. “You can also collect information into your identity profile, and you only have to provide the specific information required to conduct your business with a specific organization.” For example, if required to provide proof of age, the device can provide that information specifically rather than use a broader information source like a driver’s license which will also contain other information not relevant to the transaction. Information from other entities like a passport, university transcripts, an employer’s verification of employment, vehicle registrations or bank account statements can also be provided in the same specific manner.

Will service providers and other organizations like this? Townsend acknowledged that’s hard to say, given that they are used to a model in which they are the dominant player in these digital interactions. But given the general trend toward privacy and people’s concerns about the security of their personal data, pressure for a new way of verifying identity is strong.

“The business models are still being worked out,” he said. “However, there is an expense in verifying identity, so if identity can be proven up front, that releases friction. It will also reduce friction around transactions with partners and other affiliates.”

Townsend indicated the specific characteristics of the ShoCard technology that made them the preferred candidate for acquisition.

“There were certain things we liked about the underlying security and architecture of their solution,” he said. “Blockchain-based technology has a lot of advantages in security. The solution also has a strong ability to interoperate with more traditional IAM stacks.”  That platform interoperability will facilitate the integration of the technology into the Ping Intelligent Identity Platform.

Armin Ebrahimi, founder of ShoCard, comes to Ping in the deal as the head of distributed identity.

Personal identity has been largely the preserve of small companies until now, but Ping expects that other larger vendors, including those in the IAM space and beyond, will be taking their own measures to respond to public interest in personal identity management.

“We are one of the first to publicly announce our plans, but we know there are other vendors looking at it,” Townsend stated. “It’s also not just related to the IAM space, although we do expect to enjoy a bit of a first mover advantage there. There are some very large Internet companies interested in this as well.”

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