Microsoft is working on a decentralized Digital Identity system, using blockchain and Authenticator

Laurent Giret

Microsoft Authenticator Android

A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft announced that it was joining the ID2020 alliance, a global partnership working to create an open-source, blockchain-based digital identity system. This is all about providing a decentralized and reliable ID system to the billions of people with no reliable ID worldwide.

This is a great opportunity for Microsoft’s Identity Division, which has been exploring new ideas around what it calls “Decentralized Digital Identities” for over a year. In a new blog post on Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility + Security blog today, Ankur Patel, Principal Program Manager in Microsoft’s Identity Division explained that the company plans to integrate digital identities within its cross-platform Microsoft Authenticator app:

Today, the Microsoft Authenticator app is already used by millions of people to prove their identity every day. As a next step we will experiment with Decentralized Identities by adding support for them into to Microsoft Authenticator. With consent, Microsoft Authenticator will be able to act as your User Agent to manage identity data and cryptographic keys. In this design, only the ID is rooted on chain. Identity data is stored in an off-chain ID Hub (that Microsoft can’t see) encrypted using these cryptographic keys. Once we have added this capability, apps and services will be able to interact with user’s data using a common messaging conduit by requesting granular consent.

Today, the main purpose of the Microsoft Authenticator app is its support for multi-factor authentication for work, school, and consumer Microsoft accounts, and it makes sense to make this app a true digital identity hub. “Initially we will support a select group of DID implementations across blockchains and we will likely add more in the future,” added Patel, who didn’t share a timeline for the experiment today.