Speakers » Klaus Schmeh

Klaus Schmeh

Consultant, cv cryptovision, Germany

Blockchain – Friend or enemy (or both) of electronic identity documents?

Blockchains are a promising emerging technology. Some blockchain implementations position themselves as an alternative to conventional identity documents, bearing names like BitNation, EtherID, Ident.ee, NameID, Onename, Shocard, and World Citizenship.
In fact, while blockchains are mainly known for payments (e.g., BitCoin) they also enable the creation of identity schemes without the necessity of a trusted third party. For instance, it is possible to operate a PKI with a blockchain ledger replacing the certification authority.
This presentation gives an overview of blockchain-based identity schemes and illustrates the differences to trusted third-party systems. Further, it shows major drawbacks where blockchain technology alone often fails; for example, when attributes need to be asserted to an identity in a reliable way – e.g., citizenship in a certain country, or a professional designation as a doctor, lawyer or other academic title. Typically, only trusted third parties such as state agencies or accrediting institutions can guarantee such an attribute.
To overcome this difficulty, some implementations combine blockchain technology with the trusted third-party approach. For example, the Estonian eID card complements national identity documents with a blockchain. This presentation will show that both block chain and trusted third-party technology have their benefits, and that cooperation between eID authorities and blockchain implementations can be a mutually beneficial option.


Klaus Schmeh has published 12 books, 200 articles, 500 blog posts and 20 research papers about encryption technology, which makes him the most-published cryptology author in the world. His book ‘Elektronische Ausweisdokumente’ was the first reference book published on electronic identity documents. At his main profession of security consultant at the German company, cryptovision, Klaus utilizes his special skill in explaining complex technical topics, often using self-drawn cartoons and other unusual means for visualization. He is an excellent speaker and frequent lecturer. He has hosted presentations at more than 160 conferences in Europe, Asia, and the USA.
•    Blockchain-based identity schemes are an alternative to conventional identity documents;
•    The blockchain approach usually fails when attributes need to be asserted to an identity;
•    There are concepts that combine conventional identity documents with blockchain technology.

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