Interoperable open source digital wallets are on the way

Digital wallet technology is something of a minefield at the moment, but the Linux Foundation may have a solution.

The organization has announced plans to form the OpenWallet Foundation (OWF) which will help to develop open source software to increase interoperability between digital wallets. There is no intention to create new standards, and the OWF will not publish a wallet of its own. Rather, the aim is to bring together a collaborative community to build an open source software engine that can be used by just about anyone to create digital wallets.

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Announcing its intentions, the Linux Foundation says the OpenWallet Foundation is being formed as “a new collaborative effort to develop open source software to support interoperability for a wide range of wallet use cases”.

The foundation says:

The initiative already benefits from strong support including leading companies across technology, public sector, and industry vertical segments, and standardization organizations.

The mission of the OWF is to develop a secure, multi-purpose open source engine anyone can use to build interoperable wallets. The OWF aims to set best practices for digital wallet technology through collaboration on open source code for use as a starting point for anyone who strives to build interoperable, secure, and privacy-protecting wallets.

The OWF does not intend to publish a wallet itself, nor offer credentials or create any new standards. The community will focus on building an open source software engine that other organizations and companies can leverage to develop their own digital wallets.  The wallets will support a wide variety of use cases from identity to payments to digital keys and aim to achieve feature parity with the best available wallets.

It is a plan that has been widely welcomed by many in the industry, including The Open Identity Exchange (OIX), Identity Woman in Business, and OpenID Foundation. Nick Mothershaw, Chief Identity Strategist at OIX, welcomes the creation of the OpenWallet Foundation, saying:

The creation of open source components that will allow wallet providers to work to standards and trust framework policies in a consistent way is entirely complementary to our own work on open and interoperable Digital Identities. OIX’s Global Interoperability working group is already defining a “trust framework policy characteristics methodology”, as part of our contribution to GAIN. This will allow any trust framework to systematically describe itself to an open wallet, so that a “smart wallet” can seamlessly adapt to the rules of a new framework within which the user wants to assert credentials.

More information about the OpenWallet Foundation is available at openwallet.foundation.

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