Litentry this week: DID startups program launch and the evolvement of digital identity

5 min readSep 28, 2021


Litentry this week:

  • Testnet: Local experiments of try-runtime and runtime upgrade
  • Launched DID startups program, an incubator for decentralized identity projects
  • Opinion: The evolvement of digital identity


  • Collator fee research
  • Cumulus pallets research
  • Adapted the account linker pallet into sgx execution
  • Added collator related pallets to parachain
  • Local experiments of try-runtime and runtime upgrade
  • Structure adjustment of parachain chain-spec
  • Finalized testing TS investigation and cumulus test suite


  • Upgraded litentry-registrar
  • Refactored deployment scripts
  • Investigated NFT indexer for MCP
  • Exploration on the Substrate indexer Hydra, Hydra architecture, and Warthog, a GraphQL framework.
  • Discussions on Litentry Web3 Indexer architecture
  • Started research about crowdloan webpage

DID startups program

This week we officially launched DID startups program, an incubation program designed to boost growth in early-stage identity projects.

For our first cohort, we’ve been working with PNS, DeCredit and zCloak to help them tackle the hard problems they’re facing and coach them through what they wish to happen.

Many of you have asked, why incubate other DID projects if we’re doing DID ourselves? Well the answer is pretty simple — DID is a big picture which cannot be accomplished without the whole ecosystem’s collective efforts. We do not see other DID projects as our competitors, but rather, they are our comrades. In the long run, we see working with and supporting them gives even more significant value to the whole ecosystem, which reciprocally advance us.

(Video: Introducing DID startups program)

We’re proud to see our member PNS has won the ‘Most Popular Community Award’ at the second Polkadot Hackathon; that DeCredit has successfully launched their testnet of the credit-loan model protocol; and that zCloak has rapidly developed and refined their zero-knowledge proof webapp. We look forward to what’s coming next.

This week we also published “Identity in DeFi Credit”, an article co-written with DeCredit, to explore important topics in DID and DeFi Credit. Moving forward, we hope to work with our members to produce more meaningful and educational content in the DID space.

Alongside giving technical, marketing, financing assistance to the teams, we are planning Grant initiatives where teams in the Polkadot ecosystem can receive a grant and build upon us. More details will be released soon. The decentralization of identity

In Messari’s recently published research article The Decentralization of Identity by Karim Halabi, Litentry is introduced to illustrate the landscape of digital identities:

Litentry acts as an identity aggregator allowing users to manage their cross-chain identity. Thus, a user may use quantifiable past activity (reputation) from a different chain as proof when engaging with a dapp on another chain.

Opinion: The evolvement of digital identity

Identifiers (IDs), or naming systems, can be traced back to the Jemdet Nasr period in Sumeria. Humans give names to themselves and other objects to identify and differentiate their existences. In the traditional internet, IDs are created for the same purpose — identifying and differentiating individual users. More importantly, ID serves as a connector between users and the ID documents and inherently embedded the authentication methods.

In “The Path to Self-Sovereign Identity”, Christopher Allen, co-author of the W3C DID specification, drew out how digital identity evolves through different stages: Centralized Identity → Federated Identity → User-centric Identity → Self-Sovereign Identity.

  • Centralized Identity, as in ID of administrative control by a single authority or hierarchy, is commonly seen on the traditional internet. Users need to register and log in to an account to use a website’s service.
  • Federated Identity improved on the problem of balkanization — Instead of one ID per site, users can wander from site to site using, for example, a Google account.
  • The user-centric identity focuses more on user consent and interoperability, respecting some level of user consent about how to share an identity and with whom.
  • Self-sovereign Identity advanced the former stage by creating user autonomy and giving users full control of their identity. But back then there was no consensus on what SSI should be.

His article has illustrated how digital ID has evolved from its primitive form to something that is highly relevant to the interests of users. In fact, the evolvement of digital identity is more complicated than this, tracing back to early 2015 when scientists, developers, corporations and governments worked together to set up standards for a verifiable, interoperable identity.

Specifically, in 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology division (DHS) published “The Applicability of Blockchain Technology to Privacy Respecting Identity Management”. DHS awarded four research grants on this topic; one of them produced the first draft of the Decentralized Identifier (DID) specification.

Within a year, this specification was contributed to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Credentials Community Group for further development. At the same time, W3C approved its first working group on another foundational component of decentralized identity: the Verifiable Credentials Data Model 1.0 specification (which became a full W3C Recommendation in November 2019).

The initial development of OpenlD more than a decade ago was part of a movement toward user-centric identity — seeking to give end-users greater control over the sharing of their identity data, particularly in social networking and social media contexts during the rise of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Linkedln. Another major new thrust in user-centric digital identity during that same era was moving from physical credentials in physical wallets to digital credentials in digital wallets.

Blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) exploded on the scene, powered entirely by cryptographic algorithms and distributed computing. Quickly it became clear that ordinary developers and applications could take advantage of the same cryptographic libraries needed for blockchain transactions to issue and verify digital credentials.

A new identity model known as decentralized identity — popularly called “self-sovereign identity” (SSI) — has emerged. SSI provides the means for users to control personal information flow during digital interactions. SSI projects such as uPort, GlobalID, Ontology and programs that incubate SSI companies bloomed. Looking back, there are few of them have been proved fruitful in exploring the DID field, but the solutions and concepts evolve and become more mature.

Today, decentralized identity has taken its new revolution to fit into the need of Web3 residents and the metaverse. But no matter has much digital identity has evolved, we are certain that it is more than just a symbol or identifier, but rather it has significant value that has tightly attached to us and waits to be tapped.

About Litentry

Litentry is a Decentralized Identity Aggregator that enables linking user identities across multiple networks. Featuring a DID indexing protocol and a Substrate-built distributed DID validation blockchain, Litentry provides a decentralized, interoperable identity aggregation service that mitigates the difficulty of resolving agnostic DID mechanisms. Litentry provides a secure vehicle through which users manage their identities and dApps obtain real-time DID data of an identity owner across different blockchains.

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