A verifiable claim is a qualification, achievement, quality, or piece of
information about an entity's background such as a name, government ID,
payment provider, home address, or university degree.
Such a claim describes a quality or
qualities, property or properties of an entity which establish its existence and uniqueness.
The use cases outlined here are provided in order to make progress toward
possible future standardization and interoperability of both low and
high-stakes claims with the goals of storing, transmitting, and receiving
digitally verifiable proof of attributes such as qualifications and achievements.
The use cases in this document focus on concrete scenarios that the technology defined
by the group should address.
This document represents a concise but limited collection of use cases readers should review in
conjunction with the proposed Charter for a Verifiable Claims Working Group.
The Verifiable Claims Task Force of the Web Payments Interest and
Credentials Community Groups at the W3C is investigating
the requirements around secure, verifiable, and richly descriptive
"claims". The goal of the Task Force is to determine if
there is a sufficient understanding and need to merit the creation
of a W3C Working Group to develop Recommendations in this space.
This document does NOT attempt to define an architecture for
the support of Verifiable Claims. Instead it expresses the sorts
of needs that real users have that could be addressed through support
for some sort of self-soverign claim environment. It attempts to use
terminology that is consistent with the other deliverables of the
Verifiable Claims Task Force (you can see the relevant terms
in Appendix A).
Importance of this work
Entities (people, organizations, devices) need to make many kinds of claims as part of their
As more and more of these important activities move to the Internet, entities need
to be able to transmit instantly verifiable claims (e.g., about their
location, accomplishments, value, what-have-you). From educational records
to payment account access, the next generation of web
applications will authorize entities to perform actions based on
rich sets of credentials issued by trusted parties.
Human- and machine-mediated decisions about job applications, account access,
collaboration, and professional development will depend on filtering and
analyzing growing amounts of data. It is essential that data be verifiable.
Standardization of digital claim technologies makes it
possible for many stakeholders to issue, earn, and trust these
essential records about their counterparties, without being
locked into proprietary platforms.
Use case model
This document presents an aggregate use case model, comprised of Needs, Roles, Tasks, and Sequences. Taken together, these models define the
use cases that the Verifiable Claims Working Group will address.
User needs define the problem space Verifiable Claims addresses. User Roles specify the roles different entities play when interacting
with Verifiable Claims. Tasks define the functions users can accomplish and sequences demonstrate how tasks might be realized by
interactions between entities over time.
As with all models, this use case model is neither exhaustive nor complete. The listed uses cannot exhaustively capture all possible
use cases. Similarly, the models do not completely characterize the use cases represented. However, the combined model provides
specific, coherent guidance for the work ahead.
There are four roles supported by Verifiable Claims: Issuer, Inspector, Subject, and Holder.
- The entity that creates a claim and associates it with a particular subject.
- The entity verifying a claim about a given subject.
- The entity about whom a claim is issued.
- The entity who controls a particular claim. Often the subject of the claim, but not always. For example, the subject of a claim
might be a pet who has received a vaccination. The holder of that claim is likely the pet's owner, not the pet. A holder is typically
the initiator of the transmission of a claim.
Verifiable Claims address user needs in a number of key domains:
The Finance domain includes banking, brokerage, insurance, and other industries where there is a
high value placed on knwoing exactly with whom you are dealing.
- F.1 Reuse know your customer
- Jane is opening an account at MidBank in Finland. As part of
that process, the bank asks her to provide two from a variety of
possible sources to confirm her identity - a so called "Know Your
Customer" check. She selects government-supplied
verifiable claims that confirm she
receives postal mail at a certain address and
that she has a national ID card. Confirming these allows the bank to
open her account and be confident in her identity when she conducts
- Now that the account is open, Jane is issued a digitally
signed credential for her checking account at MidBank.
This credential verifies that Jane has an account at MidBank and
has access to her associated checking account. Since MidBank (and all
banks in Finland) are required to perform
"Know Your Customer" checks on accounts, this credential
can also be used as sufficient verification by other financial
institutions. This can help Jane assure destination banks that
she is verified, thereby allaying concerns about misdirected
transactions and money laundering.
- F.2 Money transfer
- Susan wants to send funds to her family in another country via a
popular money transfer service. She has verifiable claims in her
credential repository that can be used to share her identity profile.
She has also been
sent a claim from her family verifying their banking information.
By sharing these with the money transfer service, they can
automatically verify the source and destination of funds, thus being
confident in the delivery of those funds and satisfying various
regulations regarding prevention of money laundering.
- F.3 Closing account
- John opens a checking account at Big Bank Co and is issued a Verifiable Claim
indicating that the account exists, that the bank verified John's identity, and that
John has access to the account. Some time later, John is moving to a new city and
decides to close that account. Big Bank Co needs to revoke that claim as part of their
normal account closing process.
- F.4 Trying out a new service
- Nikita has several accounts with BigBank, as well as a
brokerage account with WallStreetCo. She had placed all of her claims
in a credential repository at BigBank that came free
when she opened her accounts. WallStreetCo is now offering a new
repository that has an interface she thinks she will prefer.
her claims from BigBank into the repository at WallStreetCo to
experiment with their service, but continues to use the service
from BigBank while she is testing.
- F.5 New bank account from home
- Alice wants to open a new bank account.
BigOnlineBank offers the ability to do this from home if she can
provide electronic credentials. She offers government issued
certificates that verify her identity (address, national identity
number, etc.), and opens her new account from her couch.
The education domain includes all levels of the educational experience; from primary
through professional continuing education.
- E.1 Digital transcript
- Joleen is the registrar of Mega University and, by virtue of
her office, is responsible for the integrity, accuracy, and
security of academic records. Joleen has been a pioneering
registrar in advocating an 'extended transcript' that includes not
only the standard set of course grades but also adds supplementary
information on learner competencies. These might include work
experiences and non-educational but marketable skills. Upon the
request of her students Joleen issues digital credentials that
encapsulates an extended transcript.
- E.2 Taking a test
- Eunice is about to take her ACT (a test used to evaluate her readiness for
college). When she arrives at the testing center, she is required to present
identification. Her government-issued identity certificate
is acceptable, as the verifiable claims
contained in it reflect all of the required attributes and it is impossible to counterfeit.
- E.3 Transferring schools
- Rocky is an undergraduate student at Wossamotta U. His school
provides a credential repository service to all students and alumni,
so he chooses to use it. In his third year, Rocky decides to
transfer to Moosylvania Tech. They do not offer a service, but
he does not want to continue to use the service of his old (and
now rival school) so he moves his claims to the
service offered by his bank without needing to have them
- E.4 Online classes
- In MOOC and other on-line learning systems, being able
to reliably identify participants is vital to ensure the
individual evaluation and certification. Nick is participating in
a course online and takes a test.
He is required to provide his
credentials to prove his identity before the test, and
then to allow the system to issue a verifiable claim regarding the results of
Privacy is critically important in the healthcare industry. This domain looks at everything
from physicial interaction to connecting patients and providers with service organizations.
- H.1 Prescribing
- Barney is a physician, and has recently become board certified in his state.
The state's board issues Barney a digital certificate confirming that he is certified
to practice medicine in that state. Barney can now use this certificate when writing
prescriptions and referrals, thereby improving accountability and verifiability.
- H.2 Online pharmacy
- iPharmacy receives a prescription for Bob electronically from a local
clinic. It includes a certificate about the physician that issued
the prescription as well as one about Bob. iPharmacy's
system automatically verifies the ability of the physician to
write prescriptions, as well as Bob's insurance coverage.
When Bob arrives to pick up his medication, iPharmacy
further correlates his identity with the certificate, thereby
improving the end-to-end accountability of their system.
- H.3 Insurance claim
- Tracy has a sore throat soon after moving to a new town. She finds a physician through
her health care network and goes in for treatment. She is a new patient, so the
clinic needs to know who she is and how she will be paying. When checking in, she
presents her verifiable claim that demonstrates her identity and her proof of
insurance. When the clinc submits this to the insurance company, they can
automatically ascertain that she submitted her proof of identity and insurance to the provider
and granted the physician the ability to submit the claim for payment.
- H.4 Traveling illness
- John is on the vacation of a lifetime, travelling the world. Falling ill, he
visits a health clinic in a country in which he does not live.
At the clinic he is
asked for proof of identity. He provides a credential that
verifies his name and address, but elects not to disclose his
marital status nor his social security number, as those are
neither requested nor required at this clinic. He further marks
the disclosure as expiring in 30 days - he does not want his
information verifiable after that time.
The retail domain encompasses all things where there is an exchange of value on an individual level.
This includes brick-and-mortar store fronts, web-only venues, and even person-to-person sales.
- R.1 Address verification
- Francis has found the perfect pair of shoes.
When processing orders, Giant Shoe Company wants to be certain
that his shipping address is accurate (inaccurate
addresses are very expensive in terms of customer service). They
offer a discount for customers who make verifiable addresses
available as part of the checkout process. Francis offers his
certificate and gets the perfect shoes for even less than he
- R.2 Adult beverages
- June goes to her local beer and wine store to buy a
bottle of wine. She submits her identity credential that
lets the liquor store owner know that she is over 21
without having to reveal her actual date of birth,
her address, or her state ID number.
In many aspects of life it is important to know that entities are who
they say they are, and that they can do what they say. Professional accreditation is one
way of learning about the abilities of an entity. Being able to verify these credentials
is essential to their value.
- C.1 Find a doctor
- Jason is looking for a new primary care physician. His health
provider includes information on their web site about the physicians
they have on staff, including verifiable credentials about their
education, board certification, and continuing education. Jason can
verify these credentials and be confident that his new physician
satisfies his requirements.
- C.2 Busy doctor
- Barney was a board certified physician, but he ran out of
time to complete his contuning education requirements and his
certification lapsed. Since the board can revoke his
certification, credential inspectors will automatically be
aware that he can no longer issue prescriptions or perform medical
- C.3 Bad university
- Jane was issued a certificate by BigTraining Co., indicating
that she was a trained Project Manager. It was later discovered
that BigTraining Co. was not actually training anyone, and their
organization's certificate was revoked via the US Department of
Education's Accreditation Database. Jane's credential is
therefore invalid, and prospective employers will be aware of
this when they check her certifications.
- C.4 New employer
- Jessica is a medical doctor practicing in the United States.
She has a variety of digital claims that explain her
qualifications, schooling, continuing education achievements, and
board certifications. These are all stored in the credential
repository provided by her employer. When she is offered a
position with another health provider network, she can
automatically transfer all of these claims to her new
- C.5 Social authority
- Josie is a healthcare worker that has created a
profile on a professional social network to make herself
readily available for new opportunities in the
workforce. She lists her employment history and
credentials including degrees, certificates, and digital
badges. The website requests verification of her
credential claims in order for her credentials to
visible when she posts messages.
Josie authorizes the sharing of the relevant claims with the
website, and the site verifies them before
allowing Josie to expose them.
- "Freedom?" is an online forum that encourages
free discussion about issues
controversial in Freedonia. The forum allows users to register
anonymous accounts, but it also allows users to obtain badges
based upon real world certifications.
Paula has been certified as an
aid worker, and wishes that
information to be marked on her
posts. She shares her certificate
with the forum, but limits it to
only verifying that she is the
holder of the certificate, that she is the
subject of it, and that she is an aid worker. In this
way she maintains her anonymity in this controversial forum while
still being able to assist her fellow countrymen.
- C.6 Job applicant
- Software Co. has posted an open position online and they are
receiving thousands of applications. Cindy has applied for the
job. Unlike many applicants, she has attached her education credentials
- college degree, additional specific software training, etc. Software Co.
evaluates these credentials automatically as they receive her
application. Because her materials are verifiable and verified,
her application is immediately forwarded as a viable
For many transactions, an entity must be able to prove some aspect of their
identity in a way that can be quickly verified. Governments and other widely recognized
entities are well positioned to provide such identification in a verifiable digital form.
- L.1 Digital driving license
- Asako just passed the final test to receive a drivers
license. As she is still a new driver, and may be pulled over
for a traffic violation, she would like to receive a credential
that asserts a claim that she has right to drive a car. She
requests a credential from the certifying authority
(issuer) that she can use to prove to the officer
(credential inspector) that her claim is
- L.2 Seamless immigration
- Tom is a frequent international traveler. In order to speed processing
through immigration check points, he applies for a digital passport from
his governmental authority. After satisfying background check requirements,
the authority issues Tom an electronic version of his passport. This
version is verifiable and retains a history of all the places he visits so
that immigration officials can quickly and easily evaluate his suitability as a
visitor to their country. Once they are satisfied, the will automatically add the
details of this new visit to Tom's passport.
- L.3 Speedy air travel
- Security for air travel is more and more rigorous, requiring more and more time to validate
each passenger. Ivan has a collection of verifiable claims that are assembed into his
air travel Identity Profile. When Ivan needs to pass through a security checkpoint at his airport,
he presents this profile before entering the line. Because his identification can be immediately and automatically
verified, he is permitted to skip the long line and go straight to the metal detector.
- L.4 Refugee crisis
- Thousands of people each year are displaced because of man-made and natural disasters. Anoushka is one such,
having been forced to flee her village along with her mother and younger brother. They
reach an IFRC center just across the broder in a relatively
safe area, but with no documentation. Since the government of her homeland is in turmoil, there is no way for the IFRC staff
to easilty establish their identities. Fortunately, Anoushka had been issued a self-soverign proof of birth, attached to which
is the proof of birth and marriage for her parents. She is able to retrieve this because it is available from many places on
the Internet. Since it is verifiable, the IFRC is comfortable vouching for them and resettling them in a safer area for the
duration of the conflict.
Use cases are often used as a driver for requirements. While the users of Verifiable Claims have needs across many domains,
the tasks associated with those needs span the domains. This section summarizes those tasks, as well as requirements related to the tasks,
and maps the tasks and requirements back to the associated needs.
It is worth noting that the subject may or may not be the same entity as the holder. There are no tasks in these examples
that require participation of the subject.
- It MUST be possible for any entity to issue a verifiable claim.
- Individuals and organizations need a way to issue
claims about themselves or others that can be verified and
- F.1, E.1, L.1, H.1
- It MUST be possible for the holder of a claim to
restrict the amount of information exposed in a claim they choose
to share. It also MUST be possible for the holder to limit the
duration for which that information is shared.
- Credentials may be issued about a subject that include
multiple attributes, only some of which are required when
verifying a specific criteria is satisfied. The holder
should have the ability to satisfy the criteria without revealing
additional attributes that are not required.
- R.2, H.4
- It MUST be possible for an inspector to verify that the
credential is an authentic statement of an issuer's claims
about the subject. The verifying entity must have the
capability to connect the issuer’s identity to its
credential identifier and the subject's identity to
their identifier as indicated in the credential. The
issuer’s verification information, such as its public key,
must be discoverable from the credential record and
verifiably linked to the issuer. It MUST be possible to
do this in an automated fashion.
- In many environments (such as order processing) information such as a payer's
address, citizenship, or age need to be automatically verified in order to complete
- F.2, C.1, E.2, R.1, F.5, H.2, C.6
Store / Move claim
- It MUST be possible for the holder of a claim to store that
claim in one or more credential repositories. It MUST also be
possible for the holder to move a claim among credential
- A claim is under the control of its holder.
That holder will choose where their claims are stored based upon a
variety of factors (e.g., employer requirements, convenience, service
levels, business intelligence). The holder needs to be able to
easily choose among various credential repositories, and also to be
able to migrate their claims to another without requesting new
claims from the claim issuer. Competition
in this space will foster innovation and cost savings. Multiple
providers in this space will improve reliabilty.
- F.4, E.3, C.4
- It MUST be possible for a holder to select if and which
credential should be sent to an inspector.
An inspector may require that a holder verify aspects
of their suitability for a transaction. In this case, the
holder must be able to select which, if any,
Verifiable Claim stored with their Credential Repository
is used to satisfy the
- C.5, E.4
- It MUST be possible for the issuer of a claim to
revoke it, after which it will no longer satisfy verification
- An entity (issuer) discovers that a claim they have issued
and are endorsing for an end user (subject), is no longer valid and wishes to revoke the issued claim.
- F.3, C.2, C.3
The transaction examples in this section basic ways in which Verifiable Claims
might be used. They are not meant to be architecturally constraining. Instead,
they are meant to help illustrate the basic way it could be done in a
typical commerce situation.
Again - please remember that it is just an
example, and should not be thought of as the canonical way such
a claims environment must be implemented.
How a verifiable claim might be created
In this first example, a user will request a Verifiable Claim - a
confirmation of their identity. Consider this illustration:
Expanding on these steps:
- Jane asks her User Agent to help her get a Verifiable Claim about
- Her user agent connects her to a certificate issuer that is able
to verify her identity.
- The issuer examines her documentation.
- They are satisfied, so the issuer generates a Verifiable Claim for
Jane that includes information about her identity linked to their
own trusted credential.
- The issuer delivers the credential back to Jane's User Agent.
- Jane views the credential to ensure it reflects her
- When she is satisfied, she instructs her User Agent to save the
Verifiable Claim so she can use it in the future.
- The UA communicates with her Credential Repository,
instructing it to store the new claim.
- The Credential Repository returns a list of the claims it is
holding for Jane to the UA.
- The UA shows Jane her claim collection - confirming
everything she has available.
How a verifiable claim might be used
In this example, a holder of a claim needs to use that claim in a
typical commerce situation:
- Jane decides to shop on the web site
- The merchant's site requires Jane be 21 years of age and
requests Jane prove this (via a user agent-supported API call).
- Jane's user agent asks her credential repository for the
- The credential repository shows Jane three Verifiable Claims
it knows of that
can assert this claim (e.g., her passport, driving
license, and birth certificate).
- Jane selects one of these and authorizes that it be
shared with the merchant.
- The credential repository returns the selected claim as a response
to the user agent-supported API call, which in turn delivers
it to the merchant.
- The merchant's server verifies that the claim is valid
and satisfies the requirement.
- The merchant redirects the user agent to the web site
with appropriate authorization.
The editors are thankful to the contributions from the
Web Payments Workshop, the Web Payments Community Group, the Web Payments
Interest Group, the Credentials Community Group, and the
Verifiable Claims Task Force.