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Atala PRISM: Cardano’s secret weapon.

An introduction to the identity solution by @Eilert.

Atala PRISM: Cardano’s secret weapon.

An introduction to the identity solution by @Eilert.



In this article, the very intelligent and criminally under-appreciated @Eilert gives a thorough crash course on the secret weapon in Cardano’s arsenal.

ADAape.com are firm believers that this technology will be the killer use case that single handedly entices nation states, multinationals and innovators to enter into the Cardano ecosystem.

In the article that follows, you will learn:

  • What PRISM is relative to the rest of ATALA’s service offerings

  • What Atala PRISM has achieved thus far

  • The plans for the future

  • How you can work in the space going forward by joining the Atala PRISM Pioneer Program.

We hope you enjoy the read.

What is Atala?

Atala is a series of solutions from IOG that addresses critical issues such as traceability, digital identity and authentication. You could also call it a third-generation toolbox that enables governments, corporations and other entities to rapidly build products for millions of end users.

Atala TRACE determines the provenance of goods and services. As consumers are more cautious about environmental and ethical production, larger companies are urged to bring transparency and trust to the entire supply chain. Another example is agriculture. Atala Trace is a viable method to support all parts of the supply chain from farmer to consumer.

With Atala SCAN, IOG is ready to tackle counterfeiting. Counterfeit luxury products account for about $3 trillion globally. Counterfeit medication, collectibles and high-value products are flooding the market. 10% of all drugs in circulation are counterfeit and this accounts for around $200 billion annually. Atala SCAN is a tamper-proof system to establish product provenance and auditability to ensure every product sold is original.

In this introduction, we are looking closer at Atala PRISM, a decentralized digital identity solution that brings a new wave of possibilities to the Cardano blockchain.

What is Atala PRISM?

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In short, Atala PRISM is IOG’s decentralized digital identity solution built on Cardano.

But to first understand Atala PRISM, you have to really understand what an identity is.

Your identity is who you are, and you constantly need to verify it. Whether you’re contacting your bank, local hospital or insurance company, you will have to verify your identity before getting access to their services. Your identity isn’t just who you are, but it also decides what services and products you gain access to. This is as true in the digital world as it is in the real world.

As our lives are getting more and more connected to the internet, so is our identity. To even access different websites, consumers give away control over their digital identity to third party providers like Google or Facebook. Consumers are losing control over their digital identity and the majority of consumers don't know who has access and what they have access to.

Atala PRISM gives you full control over your identity. It’s a decentralized alternative to the issue of digital identity, empowering the individual to control, own, and verify their credentials anytime, anywhere. It leverages blockchain to give the individual back control and ownership of their own credentials, creating a digital identity that they can share when and with whom they want, via their mobile phone or smart cards.

Why use Atala PRISM when there are other, more traditional digital identity systems already available?

Traditional centralized digital identity systems pose several risks such as identity theft, data breaches, data harvesting, and fragmentation. 1 of 3 U.S adults have experienced identity theft, which is more than twice the global average. Consumers lost more than $56B to identity fraud and theft in the US in 2020 and numbers are rising.

Atala PRISM overcomes these problems by giving more control to individuals and institutions, rather than relying on one single entity.

Decentralized identity enables a more trusted, secure and private way of sharing identity and personal information. 

Cardano provides Decentralized Public Key Infrastructure (DPKI) which is key to enabling records that can be instantly verified by anyone and anywhere. DKPI enables everyone to create or anchor cryptographic keys on the blockchain. These keys are used to allow others to verify digital signatures or encrypt data to the respective identity holder. DPKI is an enabler for verifiable credentials. The Cardano blockchain is ideal for anchoring digital identities as it is highly secure and designed for long-term sustainability.

Blockchain comes of age in Africa.

We have all heard the phrase “bank the unbanked”. This starts with an identity. Most of us take our identity for granted. It’s easy to travel, borrow money, get insurance and make payments. This is the case for most citizens in developed countries, but it is quite the opposite for citizens in developing countries.

Input Output, the technology company that created Cardano and Atala PRISM, has been working on the African continent since 2017.

“I started my company in February 2015 with a dream of delivering economic identity to those who don’t have it. The reality is that the world still lives in two different configurations. One for the developed and one for the developing.”

- Charles Hoskinson, CEO, Input Output Group.

IOG wants to level the playing fields for citizens in developed and developing countries. Cardano and Atala PRISM brings identity and equal possibilities for all.

In Ethiopia, 80% of the population lives in rural regions. Without an identity they do not have access to education, employment or other financial or social services.

Ethiopia has made considerable progress in educational development over the past two decades, with primary school enrolments tripling between 2000 and 2016.

This rapid expansion has posted a few challenges and there is massive pressure for a national education system to track millions of students, teachers and records.

The Ethiopian Government is currently building this system on Cardano. With the help of Atala PRISM, over 5.000.000 students and 750.000 teachers will get their DIDs (Digital Identity) and be boarded on the system in the coming months. The system should be operable before the end of the year.

A prototype of the Atala PRISM interface.

IOHK’s Director of African Operations, John O’ Connor, studied at Oxford. He is half-Ethiopian and was intrigued why there were no students from Ethiopia. When he asked about it, he was told that the college didn’t recognize credentials from Ethiopian universities. They didn’t have enough information about Ethiopian universities.

With Atala PRISM it’s easy for institutions and other providers to check credentials with the help of tamper-proof blockchain technology.

For a quick overview of Cardano’s ambitions and achievements with Atala PRISM in Africa, please watch this short video produced by IOHK:

How does it work?

Schools in Ethiopia are preparing to board Cardano by setting up computer labs and buying equipment so everybody will have access to the system. The Ethiopian government has already purchased over a million tablets to be available at schools all over Ethiopia.

The Ministry of Education in Ethiopia will run a full node, and schools will log into a light-client to get access. To implement the project in over 3500 schools across Ethiopia, IOG have partnered up with several companies, including World Mobile, a telecom partner that has a mission to “connect the unconnected”. World Mobile is building the infrastructure that is necessary to connect all 3500 schools in Ethiopia.

Students will in addition receive smart cards with NFC chips that will contain their identity and educational credentials. This means the data will be available even if the student doesn’t have internet connection or devices to connect to the system.

The system will go live later this year, but millions of students have already been added to the database.

For those interested in diving deeper into the technicals, IOG’s technical architect Alexis Hernandez shows us Atala PRISM being used live on the testnet:

What’s next for Atala PRISM?

Charles Hoskinson has stated that their intention in Ethiopia is to compete for the whole national ID system, which is about 110 million people. The system IOG is currently implementing in the education sector, is configurable to suit every needs for Ethiopia’s national ID system. With Ouroboros Hydra, Cardano’s state-of-the-art, layer 2 technology, Atala PRISM is scalable to fit needs now and in the future.

IOG is working with several African governments and businesses that want to use blockchain to digitize their services. There is an ongoing pilot with the GEORGIA’s Ministry of Education and universities in the Republic of Georgia. using Atala PRISM to create a system for verifying graduate degrees. Atala PRISM enables students to receive, store, and send their achievements right from their smartphones. Immediate verification of credentials means no need for background checks, saving universities and employers valuable time and resources.

Click the image to read more.

Click the image to read more.

With the launch of Atala PRISM in Georgia, IOG hopes to establish Atala PRISM as a new standard of authenticating digital identity and credentials. Businesses, governments and individuals can reap the benefits of this smart, decentralized solution.

Atala PRISM and DeFi

On the 12th of September, Alonzo and smart contracts will be live on the mainnet and Atala PRISM will have a more proficient role in decentralized finance (DeFi) then most people think.

To take a loan in DeFi you put up your cryptocurrency as collateral. This works in the way that the DeFi protocol connects to your wallet and tokenizes the amount used as collateral. You are not allowed to borrow more than approximately 75% of the collateral amount. This will allow consumers to borrow on their crypto, without losing their position. Since the smart contract is tied to a specific amount in your wallet, the smart contract is terminated as soon as the borrowed amount is paid as agreed. Leaving you with no record of a successfully paid off loan.

With Atala PRISM, Cardano is bringing a decentralized identity solution to DeFi that could be revolutionizing. It will now be possible to connect your loans and transactions to your digital identity. This data has lots of use cases, but the most interesting in the DeFi space may be the possibility to build up your digital credit score. This could allow you to loan more on your crypto and at better rates as your credit score continues to improve. A high digital credit score could lead to perks in the DeFi space and could even help you in securing your first mortgage or car loan.

We’ve already seen World Mobile entering a partnership with MELD to be able to offer their mobile customers DeFi services. Without going into the partnership, it shows how easy Atala PRISM makes it for providers to offer their customers a broader range of services. This could open a new wave of exciting partnerships in the DeFi market.

Companies that aren’t currently involved in crypto, would not miss out on a chance to offer their services to a larger audience in such a cost-efficient way. With the help of Atala PRISM and digital identity, IOG introduces RealFi - Real world adoption of decentralized finance.

“Atala Prism is the most underrated element of Cardano.

It’s the least understood by the market and it’s the first time we have ever seen identity so tightly connected with the L1 chain, almost as an extension of it.

The business models and products that will emerge from this will kick off a wave of experimentation in the decentralized identity app design space.”

-Dewayne Cameron, Founder of Liqwid Finance, during his recent interview with ADAape.com

How can you take part in this revolutionary new technology?

If you feel inspired to work in this space, you should definitely consider taking part in the Atala PRISM Pioneer Program. You can find more infromation and register your interest in participating by clicking the button below.

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