The W3C Verifiable Credentials specification is a fairly recent addition to the digital identity space. In this article, I give you an introduction to the Verifiable Credentials concept.
The most common analogy for the verifiable credentials concept is a physical wallet with one or more physical identity cards. Just as with a wallet in the physical world, an app on your mobile phone can act as a wallet in the online world. Verifiable credentials are identity cards you can put into your wallet app.
A web service on the internet can ask you to present a verifiable credential, just the same way you would present an identity card when you enter a building, or present a loyalty card when making purchases at a grocery store.
There are no restrictions on who can issue verifiable credentials, again very much matching the analogy of issuers of various identity cards in your wallet.
The issuer of an identity card prints information, such as a person’s name, company name, membership number etc. on the card. Verifiable credentials contain claims to represent this kind of information.