W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-credentials@w3.org > February 2020

Re: Today's presentation on Credentials v Capabilities

From: Moses Ma <moses.ma@futurelabconsulting.com>
Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2020 16:17:56 +0700
To: public-credentials@w3.org
Message-ID: <0372e6cc-12b2-5ef7-6771-25eaa5e74b41@futurelabconsulting.com>
Hi everyone,

Thanks for this discussion, which is helping me clarify my thinking. Let 
me see if I can strengthen my understanding of VCsby articulating a 
credential use case. The area of usage that I am interested in is in the 
arena of shipping/logistics using international postal and customs 
services. I am most interested in understanding the implications 
regarding attenuation and delegation, but also beginning the process of 
investing the ROI of these technologies.

Consider the issue of someone buying a bulk amount of a powdery 
substance like talcum powder in China, and using China Post to ship to a 
friend in the United States.

1.Self-attestation: “I declare that this is $24.99 of talcum powder.”

2.Use of verifiable claim: “Here is the receipt for $24.99 of talcum 
powder from ChinaTalcum.cn”

3.3rd party VC from China Post: “ChinaTalcum.cn is a trusted shipper”

4.Verification by US Customs Service: “I don’t know ChinaTalcum but I 
trust China Post’s trusted shipper program”

What happens in each case:

1.Self-attestation leads US Customs Service to think, “Powdery 
substance? We need to scan and test to make sure it isn’t a Schedule 1 
controlled substance.”

2.Use of verifiable claim leads USPS to think: “Well, Customs should 
probably still check to see if it’s drugs, but at least we know we 
likely don’t need to collect additional duties, as it appears to be 
under de minimus value.”

3.3rd party claim from China Post leads USPS to think: “I trust China 
Post’s trusted shipper program, so I will recommend not to scan this 

4.Validation by USPS of China Post leads US Customs Service to think: “I 
trust USPS to ascertain China Post’s trusted shipper program, so I won’t 
scan this package.”

So let’s talk about delegation – China Post issued a trusted shipper VC 
to ChinaTalcum.cn. By creating a thread of VCs, composed in this case of 
the receipt VC from ChinaTalcum to prove value for duties computation, 
plus the trusted shipper VC from China Post to assert that this is 
likely NOT a drug smuggler, the USPS and US Customs Service can decide 
not to interdict the package, which reserves valuable capacity for 
higher risk packages.

Now let’s talk about attenuation – the VC is essentially being forwarded 
by USPS to US Customs with a recommendation. This attenuates the value 
of the VC, which is always at the discretion of receiver to decide.

Finally, let’s talk about DIDs and reputation – the value of the DID is 
that all parties, China Post, USPS and US Customs – can develop 
databases based on DIDs, to continuously update trusted shipper status. 
This is not a bad thing, as these agencies are tasked with making sure 
things like explosives are not being shipped.

Customs organizations cannot scan every single package, so they have to 
scan the ones most likely to contain “something bad” - e.g., drugs or 
explosives. FYI, people doing the scanning fatigue quickly and 
reliability has maybe a twenty minute half life, so overtaxing the 
system introduces risk. These agencies need more and better data to 
compute the highest probability of duties fraud, smuggling, terrorism, 
etc. DIDs and VCs could offer the postal and customs services 
interesting new sources of data to ascertain risk. Allowing “trusted 
shipper” status, similar to trusted traveler systems like TSA pre-check 
– to be continuously monitored and updated, which helps to detect bad 
actors who are “gaming” the system.

Now, what would be the ROI for using DIDs and VCs in this process? 
Currently, the risk is enormous – packages with explosives are 
detectable only if scanned. Current methods based on risk heuristics are 
not optimal – it relies on a postal inspector thinking “Hmm, Yemen is 
not a natural provider of office supplies to organizations such as 
synagogues in the Chicago area.” The use of DIDs and VCs could have 
several impacts: (a) automation of manual processes, which could reduce 
costs 10x, (b) introduction of data that could increase the accuracy of 
interdiction systems, (c) use of electronic payment systems could reduce 
postal costs for all parties.

Please consider this use case, and feel free to provide suggestions or 
clarifications, as the VC discussion has twisted and turned and is 
somewhat more challenging to follow than it was when I first followed 
the white rabbit down the DID rabbit hole.


*Moses Ma | Managing Partner*
moses.ma@futurelabconsulting.com | moses@ngenven.com
v+1.415.568.1068 | skype mosesma | linktr.ee/moses.tao

Learn more at www.futurelabconsulting.com. For calendar invites, please 
cc: mosesma@gmail.com
Received on Wednesday, 19 February 2020 09:18:22 UTC

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