This week, Microsoft announced Project ION, its decentralized identification (DID) verification system built on top of the bitcoin blockchain. ION (Identity Overlay Network) is the first such project by a major tech company and could revolutionize the way users log into all sites. Microsoft chose the bitcoin blockchain as the backbone for ION because of its speed, allowing tens of thousands of operations per second.

Forget remembering dozens of unique passwords or relying on Facebook Connect or a Google Account to access the Internet; your DID would be stored in your digital wallet, just as a digital wallet stores bitcoin currency.

This information would only be accessible with your permission as the owner of the public key to unlock it. You could use your DID to prove your identity to an employer, log into financial websites, etc.

Buying pizza with bitcoin?

The timing of Microsoft’s announcement is appropriate. After all, May 22 is celebrated in the cryptocurrency community as “Bitcoin Pizza Day,” commemorating the date in 2010 when programmer Laszlo Hanyecz persuaded someone to accept 10,000 bitcoins in exchange for two Papa John’s pizzas (it’s unclear whether this included garlic sauce). At the time, Hanyecz estimated the 10,000 bitcoins were worth about 0.0003 cents each, so his pizza cost about $30 (which is pricey for Papa John’s).

The irony is if Hanyecz had held on to his bitcoins, they would have been worth more than $78 million as of May 17, 2019 (let’s hope he got the garlic sauce). He did end up coming out ahead, though: According to a New York Times article, Hanyecz sold the rest of his bitcoins when their value was approximately $1 each, generating enough cash to buy himself a new computer.

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Photo: Serenko Natalia / Shutterstock

Kate Johanns

Posted by Kate Johanns

Kate Johanns is a communications professional and freelance writer with more than 13 years of experience in publishing and marketing.

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