This post is an excerpt from an upcoming report entitled The Current and Future State of Digital Wallets, which is being shared here as a 16-part series. To receive a copy of the report, please register here and we will get the current draft sent out immediately and a PDF of the final report when it is ready. This is the seventh post. For the first post click here, for the previous post click here, and for the next post click here.
Enterprise-grade Digital Wallets have requirements that are unique to managing the needs of an organization. Though some requirements may apply to People (e.g. scale) they become more important when worked at an enterprise level. There are several dimensions across which scale needs to be considered:
- Multiple Entities – enterprises will likely have multiple Wallets for various purposes (e.g. HR department, investor relations, corporate level) and will need to be able to use each Wallet in various ways. The existence of multiple entities within a larger entity introduces complexity that need to be considered.
- Delegation – corporations do not sign legal documents and act directly – the people they employ perform these tasks. Delegation and how it is managed and understood will be crucial for successful use of Digital Wallets. If a corporation has delegated authority for some legal issues to a partner in a law firm, there may be multiple Organizations and multiple levels of authority that need to be considered.
- Performance – corporations that are using Digital Wallets may have need to do basic operations (e.g. provide a credential, validate a credential) at scales that eclipse what a person may ever do. While a Person could validate multiple Credentials within a few seconds (e.g. checking a contractor’s insurance and training are current) a corporation may do thousands or more in the same time period.
Enterprises are more likely to have multiple agents – even of the same type – operating in the context of a single Digital Wallet.
Corporate functions requires oversight and notification in order to be able to operate large enterprises as a cohesive entity. As an Organization (or department in an Organization) grows, it may want to consider the use of Agents in the corporate Digital Wallets to help manage the complexity. We can imagine Agents that perform various duties:
- Accounting & Finance – management of payments, transactions, receipts, expense, approvals, and reimbursements will likely create its own industry of tools that can be used to get a handle on the finances of an enterprise. It is quite likely that a Corporate Expense Agent could be attached to an employee’s Digital Wallet as well.
- Compliance – the transactions that a business unit conducts may require multiple groups to have compliance monitors attached to various Wallets.
- Operations – as more and more business is conducted with Digital Wallets, the operations of an Organization can be streamlined. Operations groups can attach themselves (as Agents) to various Digital Wallets
- Inter-Entity – Organizations thrive when different parts of the organization can share trusted information faster. As Digital Wallets evolve, key events (e.g. “contract signed”, “purchase order received”) can be shared instantly with looser integration than traditional systems integration requires.
Delegation (Rights, Roles, and Permissions)
With a Person, delegation as discussed in Guardianship & Delegation is optional and arguably an edge case. Within an enterprise, delegation is a hard requirement for most activities since People perform the duties on behalf of the enterprise. Even where automated (or autonomous) software is performing a duty, the enterprise still needs to delegate various permissions, rights, or roles to the software. Delegation in the enterprise is thus unavoidable.
Enterprises need to consider how they will delegate authority for the various rights, roles, and responsibilities that will make their Organization(s) successful.
Digital Wallets can be part of the delegation process. In addition to logging delegated actions, they can hold credentials that:
- indicate what capabilities have been delegated to someone
- can be updated or revoked as needed
- provide cryptographic signing capabilities
When you think about some of the most protected items inside a large corporation you need to think about things like the corporate seals – which are often held in a physical vault for safekeeping. The reality is that forging a corporate seal isn’t hard but we put a premium on these important physical devices.
Your author believes that enterprises that adopt Digital Wallets will lead in many domains. Business opportunities are certainly one. Another is that they will lead in exploring the risks of using Digital Wallets – and they will want to mitigate as much risk as possible.
Protection of Digital Wallets, particular the master keys, will be crucial for enterprises. While delegation will allow risk to be compartmentalized (e.g. moving all but the highest risk items into other Wallets) enterprises need to consider how they can put the processes and tools in place to protect and use a Digital Wallet wisely.