Digital Wallet – Influence Things

State of Digital Wallets – Part 15/16


This post, “Digital Wallet – Influence Things,” is an excerpt from a report entitled The Current and Future State of Digital Wallets, which is being shared here as a 16-part series. Download a copy of the report. Read a complete summary.


Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.― Daniel H. Pink

It is natural to want to control the results we get. It is human nature to desire a particular outcome and then strive to achieve it.

Control can be beneficial, but it comes at a cost that can quickly become too high to justify. Attempting to control too much can result in losing control entirely, as the effort required to maintain control grows beyond the ability to improve it.

Way faster.

In software, 40-80% of total lifetime cost is maintenance (60%), and 60% of maintenance cost is due to enhancements.

Control-freaks want to be able to make sure that things happen in a particular way. Even those of us that have reformed our ways (say it with me: “My name is [your first name], and I am a control freak!”)

The problems that stem from that misplaced need for control are therefore manifold:
  • Stifling Growth. Some environments need to be uncontrolled to grow. As a community increases, the costs of maintaining control create a natural limiter.
  • Community Suppression. When someone places demands on an ecosystem, other community members are likely to either stand back to allow them to do things or back away where their ideas conflict.
  • Lack of Resilience. Systems with rigid control may be robust but fail when conditions change or control points are not deeply understood.

Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire teammates and customers.— Robin S. Sharma

Influence is a power function – we can influence far more than we can control. However, the hard part about influence is that it isn’t nearly as predictable as control.

As a result, the rewards that come through influence can be incredible.

Control vs. Influence Example

Twitter is an excellent example of the effective use of influence and poor use of control.

Successful Influence – Twitter has exercised limited control while allowing the community to create new features. Retweets (RT) and direct messages emerged from the community – they merely made some tools that helped users do what they already were doing. Arguably where Twitter acts to influence its community lightly, it grows.

Control Failure – In the early days of Twitter, the community expanded rapidly. Thus tools and apps were created and made Twitter grow faster. Then Twitter exerted control on an ecosystem and nearly died. Twitter was inconsistent and destroyed successful partners by limiting access and developing competitive features. This failure still impacts the Twitter community. Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey apologized in 2015, and they continue to struggle to rebuild the developer community.

What’s Needed?

In the Digital Wallet space, we need to look at the points of control and influence needed. As you look at the various aspects of a Digital Wallet, ask this question: “Do we need the cost of controlling this?” The answer is likely no. Now we need to ask another question: “What can I influence to ensure we get what we need?”

Which attributes of a digital wallet are most important to you? Basic capabilities are outlined in section 4.3 of the “4.3. Detailed Capabilities of Wallets & Agents” document, while deeper insight is provided in section 5, “Agents – Deeper Detail.” Nonetheless, we can influence the development of digital wallets in many ways.

  • Help guide Standards by requesting/insisting that our projects use the evolving standards. Participate where appropriate.
  • Create projects that use the open-source libraries working at the various layers of self-sovereign identity, agents, and Digital Wallets.
  • Start working through use cases inside and outside our Organizations and share the learning with the community. Though the intimate details of a project will be confidential, the general patterns will be universal and relatively generic.
  • Depending on where we are, we can influence in different ways:
    • Government should be setting guidelines for industry to work towards.
    • Companies can begin looking at how things change and which pieces of a Digital Wallet they need now and in the future.
    • Individuals can be contributors on many levels: providing leadership, coding key projects, and doing the deep thinking needed everywhere.

​Help Build the Ecosystem

The Digital Wallet ecosystem is in its early days, and the underway efforts are just beginning to form what will evolve into a multi-billion dollar ecosystem. We need to understand that early ecosystems like this are dangerous places to play. Morew importantly, the best advice for those who are not true innovators or early adopters is to “wait and see.”

The innovators and early adopters can benefit by starting early. Initially, three key activities will ensure the ecosystem’s success and the investment (time, resources, and funds) made in the Digital Wallet space.

Firstly, a focus on activities that help the ecosystem grow will initially be early experimentation and learning. The experimentation and learning will allow key players to build on past successes and avoid failures.

Secondly, the innovators and early adopters who appreciate proper governance will have an outsized impact on the ecosystem. Technology is just one piece of the solution, and arguably it becomes commoditized quickly as standards form and functionality becomes common for Digital Wallets.

Lastly, a focus on building relationships amongst different business sectors and even amongst competitors will be crucial. The Digital Wallet ecosystem will be enormous – so taking a “piece of the pie” approach won’t work nearly as well as a “grow the pie” strategy.


This post, “Digital Wallet – Influence Things,” is an excerpt from a report entitled The Current and Future State of Digital Wallets, which is being shared here as a 16-part series. Download a copy of the report. Read a complete summary.

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