With over 1.5 Billion people across the world lacking any form of valid identity document, a solution that is cost effective and easy to implement has been on the agenda of humanitarian causes for years. Through their development blog, Microsoft recently announced a partnership with startups Blockstack Labs and ConsenSys to create an open source identity solution that integrates various blockchains into one platform. By utilizing Bitcoin's blockchain as well as other cryptocurrency blockchain solutions, they aim to create a ubiquitous and highly adaptable identity solution that will prove sustainable into the future.
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Microsoft has frequently shown interest in the cryptocurrency industry, even adding new payments systems to enable them to accept Bitcoin payments for some of its products recently. However, a new initiative announced on Microsoft’s development blog recently takes this much further than accepting payments.
In partnership with industry startups Blockstack Labs and ConsenSys, Microsoft aims to build an open source identity platform that will integrate various digital currency blockchain, including Bitcoin’s, into a single identity solution. Based on an open source framework built and published on Azure, the idea is that it will allow developers to create their own identity applications. Microsoft acknowledge the importance of building in cross compatibility between blockchain solutions early to avoid industry dissection, stressing that any solution needs to be ubiquitous across different blockchains to ensure survivability over time.
This identity platform could prove incredibly useful in developing nations, offering a reliable form of identity that is simply not available to far too many people across the world. With the World Bank claiming that 1.5 Billion people across the world lack any form of legal identity, a simple and economical solution could prove life changing for vast numbers of people. Lacking provable identity can make it difficult for anyone to obtain healthcare, education, and any form of bank account, being able to access such services can make a huge difference to lives in many countries. Interest in the project is coming from many humanitarian organizations precisely for this reason, including Commonwealth of Nations and United Nations.
Microsoft is universally known and one of the top five most recognizable brands in the world, and the combination of that with a humanitarian cause such as identity solutions sets this as something powerful for the digital currency industry itself. The versatility and power of blockchain is being demonstrated on a global platform, creating a solution that could change lives for millions of people, and is certainly a positive use of cryptocurrency technology. Perhaps even more important is that they are taking steps to ensure that this solution will work across different blockchain solutions, embracing digital currencies as a whole, and including various blockchains into the system. While Bitcoin has indeed led the way, it is good that other blockchains will be part of the process and can show that cryptocurrency is far more than just Bitcoin.