We had a busy fourth quarter 2021 at Northern Block working on NB Orbit, our suite of self-sovereign identity products.
We feel quite fortunate to be on the forefront of bringing SSI closer to mass adoption. We’re working alongside great partners and customers who have the same goal. Everything we build is to further this mission.
Through the NB Orbit Platform, organizations can deploy digital credentialing ecosystems, become credential issuers, accept digital credentials within workflows and use a variety of digital wallets and agents to connect and exchange credentials.
Note: throughout this post, when we refer to the NB Orbit Platform, we’re talking about our enterprise products (e.g., Issuer, Verifier), which you can read more about towards the end of this post
In this post we’ll cover some of the major items we worked on during Q4 2021 within our suite of products.
1 B2B Interactions & Credential Exchanges
Legal entities are required to be holders of credentials, just like people. We started seeing more demand for organization credentials (e.g., audit results, financial proofs, ESG credentials), so we wanted to provide a way for our customers to easily manage them through a user interface.
We built in features on the NB Orbit Platform where a person acting on behalf of their organization can view their organization’s credentials, and interact on behalf of it with offers and proof requests. The features include:
- Accepting connection invitations from other Organization (cloud wallets)
- Accepting credential offers from connected Organization (cloud wallets)
- Displaying the list of credentials stored in the cloud wallet with pagination or card layout
- Receiving proof requests from connected Organization (cloud wallets)
- Displaying received proof requests with pagination
- Displaying the list of credentials available for requested proof
- Attribute selection option while generating the proof
2 Verified Business – Enhancements
With increasing compliance and AML requirements, the veracity and source of company data have become a central point in combating money laundering and other frauds. We started seeing an increasing demand from clients to validate legal entity data at source.
Onboarding in a self-sovereign manner to digital trust ecosystems is different than in federated models. When network operators manage a trust network and an entity connects into the network and begins transacting, it’s important to first ensure that it’s a verified entity, and that the claims the entity makes about itself are verified using a trusted source.
This enables the NB Orbit Platform to create ecosystems for trusted entities to conduct business and daily operations.
3 Support for Multiple Verifiable Data Registries
Our customers do not want to have multiple wallets to hold their credentials. Instead they prefer to have one wallet and connect with multiple verifiable data registries from this one wallet to receive verifiable credential offers and provide proofs.
Therefore we added the option to select from multiple Indy-based networks on the mobile device so that it can function with other networks.
See below how our NB Orbit Edge Wallet was used to show network interoperability with the BCovrin Indy Network:
4 Customized Wallet Branding
Many of our customers have their existing branding that they wish to leverage for their customers, employees or vendors.
To enable them to provide a customized user experience to their end users, we wanted to ensure the process of white labeling our NB Orbit Edge Wallet was quick and easy.
We now offer two ways to get a customized branded wallet:
- We work with you to collect information we need for whitelabelling such as colour guides, assets, texts, and languages (more on the multi language support below).
- We can provide you with a base Figma file and once your designs are finalized, we will quickly implement them.
Once assets are collected, it’s a fairly automated process from then on to have a build ready for private or public distribution via mobile app stores.
Below is a customer of ours, Thrivacy, who we worked with to quickly launch of their SSI Mobile Wallet & Enterprise Issuer/Verifier product suite.
5 Multi Language Support
We now offer language selection in our NB Orbit Edge Wallet. Being a Canadian company, it’s very important that we can offer multilingual options to Canadian citizens.
We now support two languages: English and French. We will be expanding to offer other languages based on our roadmap and needs from our partners.
If you’re looking for other languages or simply to modify certain existing text copy for your branded app, the process is now extremely simple thanks to the good work put in by our wallet team to make the code modular and scalable.
6 Verified Person – Enhancements
We use ID Proofing within our NB Orbit Edge Wallet for use cases where a high-level of assurance on the person is needed from a Government-issued ID perspective.
We added assurance to our Verified Person by including more checks and controls over the digitization process.
7 Digitize Any Document
There exists lots of authentic and valuable data/documents that aren’t digitally available today. Therefore, rather than waiting for various industries (source data owners/issuers) to go fully digital, we’ve decided there is a continuous need for digitization – turning physical or digital documents into machine readable data. The value of digitizing them is massive.
We implemented a powerful AI-based document parser in our NB Orbit Edge Wallet to support the digitization of any document with a standard structure.
We use an AI-based algorithm that can be trained to support any structured documents.
The use case here is to provide attested documents without going to the attestor physically (e.g., lawyer or notary’s office). We digitized a manual process which takes a ton of time, causes friction/effort and has a cost.. With our document parser, the attestors can instead issue digital credentials remotely. Rather than a stamped seal on a document, attestors can use the NB Orbit Platform to issue cryptographic digital signatures.
The other value we see is that this process doesn’t have to be repeated over and over again, as verifiable credentials are reusable, once again saving cost and time.
8 Proof Requests – Enhancements
With use cases that enable the supply of many verifiable credentials with the same schemas, it’s important that the holder can pick and choose the right verifiable credential during a proof request.
For example, let’s say you purchased a microwave from Walmart and it’s broken – you may want to return it – and you’ll need to show your receipt credential. Or perhaps you are looking to get insurance coverage for your microwave – you will need to prove the item and purchase information to the insurer. In both of these scenarios, when the verifier asks for a proof request, you need to show your microwave credential from Walmart (issuer), rather than other credentials you have with the same schema.
We built this functionality into our NB Orbit Edge Wallet to allow holders to do just that. We also worked on updates in our Mobile SDK to enable this.
We see this whole process as becoming more intelligent with time as smart agents become able to pull out most relevant credentials based on context, while learning over time.
9 P2P Messaging Between Agents – Enhancements
From Kaliya’s post on Understanding DIDComm:
“If you are reading this, you probably know already what Decentralized Identifiers (DID) are: they are “identifiers” or addresses which can be queried to return some information about the subject represented.”
Continued: “DIDComm is a cross-community standard that creates libraries and design patterns for two or more DID-controlling entities from diverse DID-based systems to communicate directly with one another. It creates a secure communication channel between software controlled by each of these entities, which can be people, organizations or things. This constitutes an “authenticated channel,” in that control of a given DID’s private keys is, barring a failure of design or operational security, proof of authenticity of the party represented by that DID.”
DIDComm messaging is such a powerful mechanism to achieve security, privacy, decentralization, and transport independence. Most messaging software today is routed through centralized servers. Although different encryption methods are used by them, there’s still an entity between yourself and the other entity you’re communicating with.
We wanted to give more flexibility to the multitude of use cases we are seeing by enabling chat to happen over DIDComm, independent of what role and system you’re using in the SSI trust triangle. We built in a web interface on the Enterprise Platform where organizations can now directly chat with their employees, customers, vendors, partners, etc.
We now support chat across these types of relationships:
10 NB Orbit Mobile Wallet Demonstrates AIP 1.0 Compliance
As Canadian and European governments prepare to issue digital identities to their citizens (e.g., passports, driver’s licences, health cards), ensuring ownership, control and interoperability of data is paramount.
Northern Block has committed itself to compliance with open source projects which lead to the interoperability of verifiable credentials. In November 2021, we worked with the Digital Identity Laboratory of Canada to have them evaluate conformance of our wallet technology to the Hyperledger Aries Interoperability Profile.
The IDLab team conducted the testing of the NB Orbit mobile wallet on both iOS and Android devices, running testing within the IDLab’s technology environment.
Read more HERE.
11 General Platform Operation Enhancements
Lastly, in Q4 2021 we also continued enhancing general functionalities, infrastructure and security features of our product.
To recap on our NB Orbit suite of products:
- NB Orbit Digital Wallets – store personal credentials using our NB Orbit Edge Wallet. Store organization-related credentials in our Organizational Cloud Wallet. Maintain high-levels of assurance around identities through integrated ID proofing solutions.
- NB Orbit Issuer – a Hyperledger Aries cloud agent and controller that can create and issue verifiable credentials. It can create invitations to holders to connect and to track the status of connection invites and credential offers. The issuer has a web interface to provide users with the controls for handling connections and credential issuances.
- NB Orbit Trust Registry – a server application used to provision new issuer and verifiers. It handles the process to invite, authorize and orchestrate the cloud containers for each issuer and verifier on the platform.
- NB Orbit Verifier – a Hyperledger Aries cloud agent and controller that can create proof templates and initiate proof requests. It can create invitations to holders to connect and to track the status of connection invites and proof requests. The verifier has a web interface to provide users with the controls to handle connections and credential verifications.
- NB Orbit Verifiable Data Registry – a Hyperledger Indy network running four nodes. It is used to hold credential schemas and definitions as well as the DID Documents for the public DIDs of the issuers and verifiers. The DID Documents contain information such as the public key and endpoints of the issuers and verifiers. No data pertaining to the holders is ever stored in this network. Alongside this, we also run a revocation registry – a cryptographic tails files store that provides credentials issued based on a credential definition to be revoked.
- NB Orbit Mediator – a store and forward system that provides the mobile wallets with a static endpoint. Mobile devices are not guaranteed to be available online when a cloud agent needs to communicate with them. The mediator acts as an answering machine for the mobile wallet and will forward on the encrypted messages it has received when the mobile device is back online.
I hope this summary was helpful for everyone who’s reading.
Moving forward, we’ll aim to keep you updated every few months.
Now, back to building!