At Ethereal San Francisco this October, ConsenSys Founder Joe Lubin spoke about the importance of achieving self-sovereign digital identity before any precipitous adoption of blockchain could commence. With major identity data breaches like the incidents at Uber and Equifax occurring more and more often, it’s clear that there is a real need for self-sovereign identity, and that web3 can provide the most effective and immediate solutions. Lubin singled out uPort as the project making the greatest strides towards achieving this foundational goal.

uPort is a self-sovereign identity and data platform that enables users to register a globally unique identifier to the Ethereum blockchain, giving users control over their identity, private keys, user accounts, and private data. The uPort ID app (Android, iOS) is a mobile identity wallet that stores private keys and serves as the foundation for interacting with Ethereum and web 2.0 applications: login without passwords; receive, issue, and request attestations, verifications, and credentials; digitally sign blockchain transactions and other types of data.

“We think of uPort as building Ethereum’s user platform,” says uPort’s Alex Edelstein. “We’re trying to do two things: Make applications on Ethereum easy to build, and make it easy for new users to join. What we’re hoping is that new developers in the ecosystem can leverage the uPort platform, our various libraries and tutorials, and other components to quickly build exciting new applications on top of our identity platform.”

With the uPort Alpha en route and successful proof of concept digital ID initiatives with the Brazilian Ministry of Planning and the Canton of Zug in Switzerland active, uPort is well on its way to establishing its identity functionality as a foundational element of the blockchain ecosystem — but there is still a chance for aspiring blockchain developers to get involved.

uPort has just announced a hackathon in partnership with leading developer hub Topcoder. You can check out all the info on Topcoder, with details, guidelines, and suggestions for participants. The challenge laid out to the developer community is to leverage the uPort platform to build exciting new use cases that can help realize the promise of blockchain-based ID for everyone.

“We’re trying to make Ethereum usable for everyone, not just technical people, and part of that is building out the ecosystem with killer applications that are easy to use,” says Alex Edelstein. “We’re building core functionality that we’re hoping developers will utilize in their apps to do things like onboard users with single sign-on without passwords or issue and request signed statements, things like attestations and certificates. Another core component developers can leverage is the digital signing of blockchain transactions or other types of data with touch ID authentication on the iPhone. This makes it incredibly easy to sign transactions, a critical feature for Ethereum interaction.”

A demonstration of the Digital ID process uPort implemented with the city of Zug, Switzerland.

“Coding challenges on Topcoder are open to any person in the world as long as they are registered on our platform. Although we are a competition platform, the sense of community is very much apparent, as each challenge has a forum associated with it where members can discuss topics related to the project,” says Nick Castillo of Topcoder. “There, members can ask the copilot (challenge manager), who is also an expert member of the community, questions about the spec or pose questions to the other registrants. You would be surprised to know how much interaction and learning goes on there, even though people are competing against one another.”

“Topcoder has seen an increased interest in cryptocurrency and the supporting technologies — both from customers and developers,” says Castillo. “As developers look to expand their portfolio and expertise in the trending technology stacks, we’re providing them the learning resources and challenges they need to excel in this space through our blockchain expert community. With the support of ConsenSys as a sponsor of this community, we hope to see an uptick in blockchain challenges, specifically around Ethereum and the portfolio of tools ConsenSys is building.”

Hackathons, crowdsourced knowledge, bounties, and open-sourced code have proven to be essential tenets of the growing blockchain community. “I think we’ll see this become more commonplace,” says Edelstein. “The Ethereum ecosystem is developing so rapidly. There are new developers joining by the thousands. I think this is a great way to introduce new developers to Ethereum and help expand the ecosystem.”

Topcoder members who earned their stripes in challenges like the uPort Blockchain and Identity hackathon have gone on to work for companies like Apple, Google, and SpaceX, and it’s entirely possible that ConsenSys may end up on that list as well. “Our expectation is that most entrants would be developers new to blockchain,” says Edelstein. Our hope here is that we’ll see a few people who really take this on and do exciting things. We’re always happy to expand our community, and if people are interested in working with uPort, the more the merrier.”

Checkout the uPort Hackathon page on Topcoder for more info, and feel free to reach out at @uport_me and @ConsenSys on Twitter.

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author above do not necessarily represent the views of Consensys AG. ConsenSys is a decentralized community withConsenSys Media being a platform for members to freely express their diverse ideas and perspectives. To learn more about ConsenSys and Ethereum, please visit our website.

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