Enterprise blockchain alliance Hyperledger blockchain has recently announced the transition of Hyperledger Aries to active status. With this announcement, Aries becomes the latest initiative for shifting from incubation to active status. The profound demand for COVID-19 health credentials presents reliable opportunities for Aries to offer a collection of tools for implementing decentralized identity (DID). The Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee (TSC) has provided approval for Aries to shift to active status.

According to the GM for Blockchain, Healthcare and Identity at the Linux Foundation, Brian Behlendorf, convergence on common libraries for exchanging credentials can speed up the development of urgently-required systems and solutions, ranging throughout education and finance for combating the pandemic. He also said, “Hyperledger Aries can serve as the key for achieving the desired convergence”.

The production-ready Aries project is comparatively new in comparison to another notable identity solution, Hyperledger Indy. Both the Indy and Aries communities have common objectives for decentralized identity and verifiable credentials. On the other hand, both the tools emphasize on distinguishable domains of technology.

Hyperledger Aries – A New Identity Solution

Hyperledger Indy offers network protocol with support for saving limited amount of non-private data on a blockchain. For instance, if a COVID-19 testing lab issues verifiable credentials for a test, you could look for opportunities to check whether it was them offering the credential. In order to achieve the same, the user’s app would verify public key matches of the content on Indy-based blockchain. Additionally, Indy also serves as storage for other information like the list of revoked credentials such as expired driver’s license.

Users can recent a set of reusable tool kits with better blockchain interoperability and design for solutions and initiatives centered on creation, transmission and storage of verifiable digital credentials. The Hyperledger Aries project emerges from the need for open source tools, interoperability test suites and protocols with capabilities for using networks that support verifiable credentials, like in Indy.

The shift of Aries to active status reflects profoundly on the technical leadership of Hyperledger. It shows how the technical leadership of Hyperledger identifies the maturity of the Aries project and the overall community. TSC employs strict standards for active Hyperledger projects, especially in terms of open source governance, code quality, diverse contributor pool and best practices for security. The transition to active status ensures that Aries has expanded its community and code while signifying new beginnings for the decentralized digital identity community.

The maturity of Aries alongside the protocol-based approach in issuing verifiable credentials alongside presenting verified proofs is a revolutionary breakthrough. The endorsement of the TSC also makes Aries a trusted alternative for individuals to prove they have been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19. Aries is basically involved with all technical discussions regarding verifiable credentials. In addition, it is also a core component in various technical stacks currently under deployment.

Important Components of Hyperledger Aries

Hyperledger Aries delivers a collection of tools for developing decentralized digital identity apps. The tools come under three different buckets such as DID communications, protocols and agents.

The first noticeable component in Hyperledger Aries refers to agents or agent frameworks. Humans, entities and businesses need an approach for storing, managing and exchanging verifiable data in the digital world. In addition, agent frameworks also include the crypto demanded by decentralized identity. Agents carry out their work in decentralized environment. Simultaneously, agents could help in easier development of agents associated with particular business needs.

The next crucial component in Aries refers to protocols. The blockchain protocols in Aries run over the DID communications or DIDComm and help in ensuring peer-to-peer application-level interactions between agents. Additionally, the protocols also show the ideal approaches for designing and documenting the interactions among agents. The Hyperledger Aries community depends on an approach known as Aries Interop Profiles or AIP in order to formalize particular sets of protocols. The particular set of protocols is suitable for any agent-maker to ensure interoperability throughout the community. The protocols in Aries also provide a test harness for verifying interoperability throughout different implementations by using protocols that constitute an AIP.

DID communications are the next important component in Aries. DIDComm ensures that agents can interact with one another for achieving the desired work. DID communications emerge with Aries project and the work on subsequent versions continues in the scope of a working group with the Decentralized Identity Foundation.

The common term for mobile agents used by a person is wallet, applicable in the case of Hyperledger Aries. Wallets serve as significant links for helping people in management of their connections and credentials. They also help in managing other factors related to involvement in the decentralized identity ecosystem. Self-sovereign identity has recently gained momentum with the community approach for organizing work. The primary attention revolves around the development of open source mobile agent by leveraging React Native and Aries Framework JavaScript.

Association of Hyperledger Aries with Trust over IT (ToIP) Project

The close community association of Aries with Trust over IP (ToIP) project, housed at the Linux Foundation. Both projects are involved in issuing, holding and presenting digital credentials verifiable with cryptography without any role of intermediaries. Hyperledger Aries focuses prominently on tools needed for verifiable credential exchange. The ToIP Foundation project, on the other hand, aims for defining complete architecture. It also focuses on stacks for combination of cryptographic trust and human trust, associated with decentralized identity.

The relation between ToIP and Hyperledger is also one of the confusing elements in discussions on future of Hyperledger Aries. ToIP turns attention towards the bigger picture regarding essentials for broader adoption of decentralized identity. Therefore, it also brings in human aspects such as governance required for different aspects in a DID network. It also introduces the governance benefits with technology stack.

TSC has lauded the Aries project in a meeting with the highly diverse contributors of the project. Many number of organizations contribution to Hyperledger projects is definitely a profound challenge. In the long run, many contributors in Hyperledger Aries would reap the benefits of supporting the project.

At the same time, ID2020 has launched the Good Health Pass Collaborative. Members such as ToIP and Hyperledger in addition to other providers enhance the credibility of the association. The basic aim of the Good Health Pass Collaborative points towards ensuring interoperability of credentials. Some of the notable examples of travel credentials include TrustOne by GE, ICC AOKpass by the International Chamber of Commerce. Travel Pass by IATA is also another notable example.

Shift of Hyperledger Aries to Active Status – How Good is It?

With the increasing rate of blockchain usage in enterprise-level use cases, it is imperative to look for opportunities to leverage them now. Safety is one of the prominent needs of the hour while also imposing the requirement of resuming normal economic activity. So, digital health certificates for proving vaccination or negative results for COVID-19 could capitalize on the power of blockchain. Businesses and venues need to open up for rejuvenating the distressed economies due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, the shift of Hyperledger Aries to active status would signal new beginnings for resuming normalcy across different sectors. At the same time, the support of broader adoption of ToIP platform alongside implementation of health credential apps is commendable. With the same level of functionality, travel credentials based on blockchain could deliver inspiration for creating new health credential apps. In the long run, support for projects such as Hyperledger Aries could help in revolutionizing verifiable credentials in the blockchain for healthcare sector. Many notable enterprises are looking into the prospects with Aries project for transforming how we deal with COVID-19.