Video: What will we learn from the market failure of digital identity?

Stephen Wilson speaking at Identiverse 2022

This is the first of my two presentations at the Identiverse 2022¬†conference held in Denver, Colorado, on 23 June 2022: “What will we learn from the market failure of digital identity?”

This presentation expands on the themes covered in my December 2021 blog post, The market failure of the Standard Model of Digital Identity.

The annotated handouts (PDF) are here.


The digital identity industry has been stuck in a paradigm, fixated on one world view of identity, ever since the late great Kim Cameron published the Laws of Identity in 2005.

The paradigm regarded identity as a special type of digital product which would be provided and consumed. Decades ago, the governments of the U.S., Canada, Britain and Australia decided it was not their role to roll out digital national ID, and they expressly left it up to the market to come up with digital identity services.

Yet this simply has not happened, not in any way like the ecosystem envisaged by those governments’ elaborate trust frameworks and the Laws of Identity.

The uncomfortable truth is that the standard model of digital identity has been a market failure. There are no commercially sustainable “Identity Providers”. Dozens of businesses have tried and failed to generate demand for free market identities. The free market has spoken: Identity is not the sort of good that’s for sale.

But the good news is we are primed for a true paradigm shift, where the standard model is overturned, the Identity problem reframed, and our digital tools and practices re-purposed for a bigger and grander problem.