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A Promising Future for Blockchain Document Storage

Main image for a BOLD Awards article on using blockchain document storage for vital credentials and documents

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The traditional world of paper diplomas and certificates faces challenges like forgery, loss, and verification delays when conducting checks. Blockchain document storage provides a potential solution by offering an immutable, secure, and transparent way to manage and verify digital diplomas and credentials. All of any person’s educational achievements and work skills can be consolidated in one location to provide a complete learning journey. This makes it easier to manage and easier for other parties, such as further education establishments or prospective employers, to access. A business may also choose to create a single location of its various industry or professional awards.

Let’s look first at the benefits of using blockchain technology, then some examples, and some additional service providers. The blog ends with a look at the challenges and considerations that remain in this sector.

Six Benefits of Blockchain

1. Enhanced Security

Diplomas are stored on a distributed ledger, making them tamper-proof and forgery-resistant. This cryptographic security reduces fraud and protects the integrity of credentials.

2. Simplified Verification

Anyone can verify the authenticity of a diploma by checking its unique identifier on the blockchain. This eliminates the need for cumbersome and time-consuming manual verification processes.

3. Increased Transparency

The issuing institution, student, and verifier all have access to the same information on the blockchain, promoting transparency and trust in the system.

4. Improved Efficiency

Blockchain document storage automates record-keeping and verification, streamlining administrative processes for issuers, verifiers, and individuals. Professionals, for example, can track and create a tamper-proof record of CPD activities and courses (Continuous Professional Development). The Open Badges Initiative allows individuals to collect and share verified micro-credentials showcasing other workplace skills and achievements throughout their learning journey.

5. Global Accessibility

Diplomas stored on the blockchain are accessible globally 24/7, facilitating international job applications and academic mobility.

6. Lifetime Access

Diplomas and credentials of any type are permanently stored on the blockchain, eliminating the risk of loss or damage.

Blockchain Benefits in Action

Education

Among educational establishments, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology issues blockchain-based digital diplomas to graduates, allowing for instant and secure verification.

The University of Basel’s Center for Innovative Finance (CIF) of the Faculty of Business and Economics, collaborates with Swiss company Certification to secure diplomas on the Ethereum blockchain. After successful field tests, issuing generic blockchain-secured documents rolled out university-wide. The project has also been rolled out to other academic institutions, preventing forgery and streamlining verification of digital diplomas and other qualifications.

Sony Global Education partnered with IBM to develop a blockchain document storage and management system for educational records. Since its release in 2017, school administrators can consolidate and manage students’ educational data from several schools, as well as record and refer their learning history and digital academic transcripts with more certainty. Student data can be shared with a network of need-to-know parties including school administrators and prospective employers.

The Open University of Hong Kong issues blockchain-based digital certificates using the Hyperledger Fabric platform, facilitating secure verification and international recognition. Fabric is a highly-modular, decentralized ledger technology (DLT) platform that was designed by IBM for industrial enterprise use. It was designed for sectors such as healthcare and finance which are bound by data protection regulations that mandate maintaining data about the various participants and their respective access to various data points. Fabric supports such permission-based membership.

Permission-based self-sovereign systems allow students to own and control their credentials, allowing them to share them selectively with potential employers or institutions.

Workplace credentials

IBM Blockchain Platform also offers various blockchain solutions, including credential management services for academic institutions and professional organizations. The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) issues blockchain-based digital certificates for their professional qualifications, enabling tamper-proof verification and global accessibility.

Medtech

The World Health Organization (WHO) collaborated with a blockchain company to pilot a system for issuing vaccine certificates, aiming to combat fraud and improve immunization data management.

Replacing paper documents with verifiable electronic versions became particularly important during the Covid pandemic, and accelerated the development of blockchain-based “health passports.”

Other service providers

Here are some examples of companies that provide blockchain services related to certificates, diplomas and credentials. The blockchain space is rapidly evolving, and new companies and solutions are emerging all the time. This list is not exhaustive, and it’s crucial to research and compare different options based on your specific needs and requirements.

TRUEOriginal offers a platform for creating, sending, and storing secure digital documents like diplomas, certificates, awards, and credentials, plus other essentials including passports, travel visas and driving licenses, as tamper-proof records through security features like encryption and unique URLs.

Accredible offers a platform for issuing, managing, and sharing verified digital credentials across various industries, including education, workforce development, and healthcare.

Blockcerts is an open-source framework for issuing and verifying blockchain-based certificates. It is used by institutions like MIT and the Open Badges Initiative.

Learning Machine provides a SaaS platform for creating, issuing, and managing verifiable blockchain-based credentials for education and workforce development.

Credly offers blockchain-based “skills passports” for individuals to aggregate and present verified credentials from various sources, promoting transparency and employability. It has been used by institutions like Walmart and IBM.

Evernym focuses on self-sovereign identity solutions, enabling individuals to control and share their credentials securely.

Challenges and Considerations

  • Scalability: Public blockchains might not be scalable enough for mass adoption, while private blockchains raise concerns about centralization.
  • Regulation: The legal and regulatory landscape surrounding blockchain-based credentials is still evolving.
  • Privacy: Balancing transparency with individual privacy remains a crucial consideration.

Overall, blockchain document storage offers a promising solution for verifying digital diplomas and credentials. While challenges exist, its potential benefits in terms of security, efficiency, and transparency make it a technology worth exploring and implementing for a more secure and trustworthy future of credentialing.

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Clive Reffell

Clive Reffell

Clive has worked with Crowdsourcing Week to source, create and publish content since May 2016. With knowledge and experience gained in a 30+ year marketing career based in London, UK, he helps SMEs and startups to run successful crowdfunding projects, and provides support across wider marketing issues.

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