Written by Fraser Edwards, CEO and co-founder cheqd.
Despite the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 witnessed a significant shift in gear for new technologies, with record amounts of capital flowing into blockchain businesses. If 2021 showed us that even the best laid plans can go awry, it equally served as a demonstration of the extent to which innovation can continue and thrive, even during uncertain times. There is no doubt that this will also hold true for 2022, as technologies such as SSI (Self-Sovereign Identity) continue to gain traction. Here, industry experts at cheqd look ahead to the top tech trends they expect to see take off in 2022.
SSI will go mainstream
The unforeseen urgencies of the pandemic proved influential in accelerating the acceptance of SSI, and this wide-spread adoption is only set to continue in 2022. Use cases of SSI have sky-rocketed in 2021, with the technology proving foundational in the implementation of the NHS Staff Passport as well as the IATA Travel Pass, the first verifiable digital credential capable of providing proof of COVID-19 testing and vaccination status. The fact that Evernym – the world’s leader in SSI – has been bought by Avast further indicates the extent to which big businesses will increasingly adopt the technology, with many projecting that Twitter could be the next major platform to incorporate SSI technology in 2022.
Over the course of the next 12 months, Ankur Banerjee, CTO and co-founder at cheqd, believes both governments and businesses will become increasingly interested in what these technologies have to offer, saying: “Self-sovereign identity (SSI) is a paradigm-shifting concept that continues to gain momentum. In essence, it enables individuals to control their own data, which although may sound obvious, when considering the importance of credentials, it becomes a more complex subject. That is why companies like Block (formerly Square) are investing heavily in the space, and I have no doubt SSI is capable of solving the current identity paradigm and creating new authentic data marketplaces. The question is how? SSI will take off through its successful commercialisation and companies that innovate and capitalise on this opportunity will drive its adoption across industries. But SSI needs a network and infrastructure layer. This is precisely why we foresee a significant growth opportunity for companies that are enabling infrastructure and payment rails for SSI.”
Increased innovation surrounding data privacy and security
Consumers are progressively realising that they are giving out their data for peanuts, which in turn increasingly leaves them open to data hacking or identity fraud. According to the Federal Trade Commission, cases of online identity theft have indeed doubled since 2019, with the majority of these incidents linked to online data breaches. In an effort to redress this, companies have started to scale back on their use of personal data, with Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection and Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention blocking cookies that track online behaviour.
Switzerland has laid down the principles for the design of future government proof of identity (E-ID). E-ID users will have the greatest possible control over their personal data (self-sovereign identity). The Swiss the official paper states: “Data protection is to be guaranteed, among other things, by the system itself (privacy by design), but also by minimising the necessary data flows (principle of data economy) and decentralised data storage“. As we head towards an increasingly digitised society in 2022 with more information being shared, we can accordingly expect more efforts to ensure security and control of data.
SSI will prove a major enabler in this space, allowing individuals to retain control of their data, and thus, their identity.
Final Breakthrough for Virtual Reality
2022 could finally be the year that major breakthroughs are made in Virtual Reality Technology, opening the door for new immersive experiences. Apple is reported to be investigating various ways that virtual reality could be implemented into iOS devices, with rumors that a VR headset could launch as soon as 2022. The opportunities for SSI integration into VR are plentiful, particularly in the realm of gaming and e commerce. With ready-to-play SSI credentials, players could, for example, purchase real goods through a VR experience.
Governments adopting cryptocurrency
2021 saw a rapid boom in discussion and interest surrounding cryptocurrency. Governments, such as in the Ukraine, are increasingly adopting cryptocurrencies while the European Central Bank has decided to launch the investigation phase of a digital Euro project. El Salvador’s decision to recognise Bitcoin as a legal tender might also prompt others to at least consider this as an option. In 2022 we can thus expect governments to start approaching digital currencies as a powerful tool to have in their arsenal.
Metaverse, DeFi and NFTs
Metaverse, the latest buzzword, is a new way of interacting and forming communities in digital spaces and along with DeFi (decentralised finance) and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) has a real use case whilst being in the virtual world. With metaverse, the exchange of digital art and digital products becomes more transparent and decentralised, safely remaining on the blockchain. The metaverse isn’t going to mature overnight, it’ll be a continuous process with many participants developing solutions to enable it. NFTs will be crucial in the upcoming metaverse, opening various new business models and financial models ruled by smart contracts instead of financial institutions.
With work becoming more decentralised and trustless systems gaining relevance, 2022 is set to be the year of further decentralisation. The developments in Web 3.0, including NFTs, decentralised finance and cryptocurrencies, to name a few, are unavoidable as the benefits of their adoption are appealing to both public bodies, businesses and individuals. More and more, content creators will opt for independence from big tech companies and relish the benefits of data ownership, empowerment, and self-sovereignty.