Interested in how to build an identification app using blockchain? In this article, we will discuss blockchain identification app development in detail.
How can blockchain help with Identification Challenges?
Blockchain can make a difference due to the following reasons:
- It’s a decentralized network where all “nodes”, i.e., computers have the entire data on the network.
- This effectively makes each node a ledger of all records on the network, therefore, we call it “Distributed Ledger Technology” (DLT).
- Each node can interact with the other nodes, without the intervention of a central server. Even if a hacker destroys one server, the network remains.
- Security measures like decentralization mentioned above, digital signatures using encryption, cryptographic hash functions, and consensus algorithm provide for the immutability of records. Read more in “How to build your own blockchain using Node.js”.
- Blockchain networks like Ethereum allow the use of smart contracts. These are autonomous pieces of code, transferring cryptographic assets based on predefined conditions. Smart contracts are transparent and tamper-proof, while their execution is irreversible. They make contract administration easier, therefore, they can improve the efficiency of organizations.
- Blockchain networks for enterprises restrict access and use consensus algorithms that offer better scalability. We call them “Enterprise blockchains”, and Hyperledger Fabric is an example.
As we can see, transparency, security, immutable records, and efficient operations offered by blockchain can address some of the fundamental challenges with IAM.
Digital identity blockchain use cases
Industry experts have identified several use cases of identity management systems where blockchain can make a notable difference. These are as follows:
- Identity verification processes can use a blockchain-powered multi-step, multi-factor identity verification.
- Blockchain can decentralize the current centralized custodial login systems.
- The technology can help provide a secure identity solution for the decentralized web.
- Blockchain can make self-sovereign identity, where users control their identity information and how it’s used, a reality. I have written about it earlier in “How to build a self-sovereign identity wallet?”.
- The protection of critical infrastructure can improve with blockchain.
- “Internet of Things” (IoT) is a technology with significant promise, however, there is a challenge. The entire communication between IoT-enabled devices happens over the Internet. Blockchain can secure this communication.
- Decentralized user data storage with blockchain can help avoid scandals like the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data breach.
Read more about these use cases in “Blockchain for identity management: 7 possible use cases”.
An example of a blockchain identification app
Let’s briefly review Blockpass, an example of a blockchain identification app. The following quick facts are worth noting:
- Blockpass has a comprehensive identity verification portal called “Blockpass KYC Connect”.
- It helps in the quick and easy onboarding of users for organizations in heavily regulated industries.
- It uses blockchain and smart contracts for “Know Your Customer” (KYC) and “Anti Money Laundering” (AML) compliance procedures.
- They offer shared regulatory and compliance services. Organizations can use these services and eliminate expensive processes while onboarding users across different services.
- Blockpass offers a set of tools that are easy to install. Organizations can use their “Software Development Kits” (SDKs) to integrate them with their existing systems.
- The company offers Android and iOS apps.
- Blockpass uses its PASS crypto token, which is built using the Ethereum ERC20 token standard. Users can easily use it with ERC20-compliant wallets.
How do you create an Identification app using blockchain?
I will now take you through the steps to build an identification app using blockchain. These steps are as follows:
Project scope definition:
I recommend that you develop a web app for identity verification using the Ethereum blockchain. You will essentially develop an Ethereum “Decentralized App” (DApp). A DApp has the following characteristics:
- DApps are web apps, where the front-end can use any language, however, the backend must use smart contracts.
- A DApp must run on a decentralized blockchain network, e.g., Ethereum.
- DApps have their users, and the future of the app depends on the consensus of the user community.
- A DApp needs to use a crypto token, created using modern cryptographic algorithms.
- No user can hold a majority of these tokens.
- DApps are open-source.
- A DApp stores data on a decentralized blockchain network, following cryptographic standards.
I have explained DApps in my article “How to convert a web app into a Dapp”.
Build a development team
Your development team requires the following roles:
- Business analysts (BAs);
- Web designers;
- Web developers for the front-end;
- Ethereum blockchain developers with experience in Solidity programming language;
- A project manager (PM).
If your team needs to learn Ethereum blockchain development, they can take the following training courses:
- Ethereum and Solidity: the complete developer’s guide;
- Ethereum: decentralized application design & development
3. Design and develop the web app front-end of the Blockchain Identification app
Read “10 great tools for Node.Js software development” to learn about the advantages of Node.js.
4. Obtain an Ethereum account
You will develop the DApp using the Ethereum platform, therefore, get an Ethereum account. Note the following:
- Deploying and running a DApp on Ethereum requires Ether, i.e., the native cryptocurrency of Ethereum. This is why you need an Ethereum “External Owned Account” (EOA).
- You can use eth-lightwallet, an easy-to-use Ethereum wallet.
- Use these instructions to install it.
- Create a public and private key pair, and secure the private key.
5. Plan for scaling your DApp
At the time of writing, Ethereum uses the computing-intensive “Proof of Work” (POW) consensus algorithm. This requires all nodes to participate in the transaction validation process and limits the scalability of Ethereum. Read “Proof of work vs proof of stake comparison” to learn more about POW.
You should take steps proactively to scale your DApp, as follows:
- Study the business case. If the app doesn’t require the fully decentralized security that POW offers, plan to use another consensus algorithm that helps with scalability.
- Create a sidechain for your app, so that you don’t congest the main Ethereum network. Loom Network offers SDKs to build a “DAppChain”, i.e., a sidechain specific to an app.
- Use their SDK to create a DAppChain.
- Use a different consensus algorithm like “Delegated Proof of Stake”(DPoS), if that meets your security requirements.
I have explained this earlier in “How to scale an Ethereum Dapp”.
6. Study Blockpass smart contracts
As part of the DApp development, you will code smart contracts. Smart contracts are open-source pieces of code with If-Then-Else statements. They automatically transfer cryptographic assets upon fulfillment of predefined conditions.
I recommend you to study Blockpass smart contracts. These cover the identity management use case, therefore, you can get great ideas.
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7. Get the required tools for development
Ethereum DApp development requires the following tools:
- testrpc: An easy-to-use blockchain client, testrpc offers a “Command Line Interface” (CLI). Use their GitHub documentation to install and configure it.
- Truffle: An easy-to-use tool for compiling, testing, and deploying Ethereum smart contracts, Truffle lets you create separate folders for your projects. Check out their installation instructions.
- MetaMask: It’s a browser extension, and it’s available for Chrome and Firefox. Ethereum programmers don’t always run full Ethereum nodes. In such cases, MetaMask facilitates communication with the Ethereum network. You need it to test smart contracts, however, I will explain more about that later. Visit the MetaMask website and install the extension of your choice. Create a password. Secure the password and the 12-words private seed that you will have.
8. Set up the tools
Your coders need to configure the tools as follows:
- Start testrpc, and run an instance.
- For using Web3.js, configure the “aconfig.js” file.
- Update the “config.js” file with the eth-lightwallet private and public keys. Read “Getting started as an Ethereum web developer” to learn more.
- Open a MetaMask connection, which points to the Ethereum main network (“mainnet”) by default. Change it to point to Ropsten, an Ethereum test network for testing smart contracts. You can read “Ultimate guide to convert a web app to a decentralized app Dapp” for detailed guidance.
9. Study the ERC20 crypto-token standard
You will create a crypto token for your DApp, which your users will use. While there are several Ethereum crypto token standards, the most popular one is ERC20. Read “ERC20 token standard” to learn about this standard.
10. Develop Ethereum smart contracts
Now that you have studied Blockpass smart contracts, proceed with coding smart contracts as follows:
- Use Solidity, i.e., the preferred programming language for Ethereum smart contract development.
- You need an “Integrated Development Environment” (IDE). I recommend that you use Remix, which itself is a DApp, therefore, you don’t need to install any tool.
- Keep the logic simple. Complex smart contracts require more “gas price” to run, therefore, users will need to spend more Ether. You also can’t modify smart contracts after you deploy them, therefore, you need a bug-free code. Simpler logic will reduce the likelihood of bugs.
11. Testing your smart contracts
It’s time to test your smart contracts. This involves the following steps:
- Get dummy Ether from MetaMask Ether Faucet for testing your smart contracts on Ropsten.
- Ensure that your MetaMask connection with Ropsten is still open.
- Now, go back to the Remix IDE screen, and click the small “+” sign at the top left. This deploys the smart contract to Ropsten, however, please confirm the action in MetaMask.
- Execute your test cases, and check if the smart contract works.
12. Creating a crypto token for your Identification DApp
Creating a cryptographic token for the DApp is essentially developing another set of smart contracts. Use the ERC20 standard, and read “Create your own crypto-currency with Ethereum” for detailed guidance. Remember to test these smart contracts too.
13. Buy Ether
This is real Ether! You need them to deploy your smart contracts. Visit Coinbase, a popular crypto exchange, and buy Ether.
14. Smart contract deployment
You are almost there! Deploy your smart contracts by taking the following steps:
- Ensure that the testrpc instance you had started is still running.
- You need to navigate to the Truffle directory that contains the smart contracts for this project.
- Pay “gas price” using the real Ether you purchased.
- Execute the “Truffle deploy” command, which deploys smart contracts.
- Make a note of the smart contract address. You will need this information to invoke it later.
I have explained these steps in “Blockchain software development using the Ethereum network”.
Congratulations! You have just completed your project to create an identification app using blockchain.
Planning to Invest in Blockchain Identification Solution?
Have a great blockchain verification idea to manage digital identities?
Digital identity blockchain use cases show the strength of these combined technologies.
However, such projects can be complex. Blockchain is a niche skill as it is a new and evolving technology. As a result, you will need a capable development team. You will also need a PM with experience in managing such projects.
For this reason, you should consider engaging a trustworthy development partner. Our guide “How to find the best software development company?” will help you do just that.
If you are still looking for experienced blockchain developers for your identification app project, DevTeam.Space can help you. Write to us your initial identification app requirements via this form and one of our technical managers will get back to you to discuss further details.
Freqently Asked Questions on Blockchain Identification App
It is an application that allows a user to prove their identity. Such apps allow a user to have an electronic identification that they are able to access anytime.
ID apps are generally very secure. Since a person’s ID is extremely sensitive, app creators do their best to keep this data safe. However, no system is completely secure which is why ID app providers are looking to new technologies such as blockchain to help improve the security via decentralized digital identities, unlike traditional identity systems.
Blockchain is an excellent solution for creating secure ID applications. It allows any time and anywhere access with the added bonus of giving the user total control of their decentralized identity data.