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Imagine being able to rid your wallet of your driver’s license, insurance card, student or employee ID, and more. Imagine not having to worry about losing your passport and vaccination records on a trip abroad, or the authenticity of those designer shoes you just bought. This and more is possible with the introduction of verifiable digital credentials. Certifications have been around for decades, if not centuries. The idea of having documents proving competence, competence or authority is not a new idea in itself. Basically, these are long-established, deeply-seeded habits that we think will not change with technological change. But it’s precisely those everyday activities that we continue to do without much thought, and in many cases, digitize credentials that have the greatest impact. In short, the age of digital credentials is here.
The internet has been around for decades, and I’ve been using smartphones for years. Why am I hearing about digital credentials for the first time? These are probably some of the questions that come to mind when you first hear about digital credentials. In fact, while the internet and smartphones have made significant progress over the past two decades, blockchain technology has only recently matured to meet the requirements for widespread application and adoption that enable verifiable digital credentials.
Transform your digital identity into a trusted identity with blockchain
Using blockchain technology, IBM Digital Credentials achieve permission, immutability and authentication. Digital credentials, or just authentication features, can be shared using QR codes or private and public keys. In most credential authentication use cases, there are three participants – the issuer, the holder, and the verifier. The issuer enters the certificate into the blockchain, thereby verifying the validity of the certificate or certificate. The holder can store that credential in their digital wallet.
When necessary, the holder may provide physically or digitally authenticated information to an authenticator who wishes to verify that the credential is trusted. Digital credentials eliminate the hassle of managing multiple physical documents, reduce the risk of fraud, and allow holders to share only the necessary data with the requesting verifier. The applications of the secure and trusted issuer-holder-verifier marketing model are limitless and will positively impact every industry.
First wave and future use cases
The adoption of digital credentials comes in waves, with the first implementation of more obvious use cases. We believe that companies and governments will take advantage of digital credentials as the benefits are realized by those involved in the first waves of adoption. We see that the main use cases are related to occupational and professional licenses, recreational licenses, educational credentials, and vaccination certificates. When these initial use cases are captured, we expect testimonials to prove the validity of the physical products are the next level of adoption. This allows individuals and institutions to verify the authenticity of body parts, clothing items, sports equipment and more. Some of the primary use cases include medical certificates, driver’s licenses and health records.
Medical credentials are prime candidates to be digitized, immutable and verifiable. In the medical industry, verifying records for new doctors is time-consuming and inefficient. The vetting process for a new member of a hospital often takes 12-25 or more independent organizations. This results in a new hire onboarding process that takes 4-6 months. Because of this current process, hospitals lose 7,500 to 9,000 dollars every day. With medical credentials stored on the blockchain, the hiring hospital can verify new hire credentials in minutes instead of months.
Similar to medical credentials, we expect health records and driver’s license verification to come in the first wave of adoption. Allowing individuals to digitally store their health records or driver’s licenses benefits identity security and safety. We are often providing more information to third parties than is necessary. For example, if an authenticator needs to verify your age, there should be no reason to reveal additional information such as your address or full name. With digital credentials stored on the blockchain, you’ll have the ability to verify your age without visually revealing any information, even your birthday!
IBM digital credentials for students
We have proven the capabilities of the IBM Digital Credentials platform by successfully applying the platform to an educational credential network use case. We have embarked on a journey to digitize academic credentials in the most niche industry. Being able to access and keep a digital record of your diploma is what immediately comes to mind. However, digitizing learning records goes further. Students and workers around the world may not have access to 4-year colleges or 2-year opportunities, but now have new ways to acquire skills through online courses, on-the-job training, skills-based experiential learning, and more. . Implementing a digital credential system such as the IBM Digital Credentials Platform ensures that these employees and students have acquired skills and proven credentials ready to use on the job. This in turn creates a talent-based economy, as well as benefits for leaders in various industries. Digitizing credentials has widened the talent pool, created more diversity in the workplace, and made it easier to find talented individuals. Companies, students, employees and educational institutions that have used IBM’s digital credentials platform for learning applications are seeing benefits from our solutions.
Certificate for government bodies
The IBM Digital Credentials team partnered with a local government in New York State to bring the power of the IBM Digital Credentials platform to their social services programs. In order for an individual or family to qualify for these programs, there are several steps that must be taken and a significant amount of documentation that must be provided. It’s a very time-consuming and tedious (and often duplicative) process for individuals to provide proof of their income, address, ID, and more.
Considering that those eligible for one program may be eligible for others, the local government decided to partner with IBM to create digital credentials to quickly verify eligibility to participate in multiple social programs. This ultimately saves valuable time for the entities and government employees involved in these processes. This initiative started with emergency rent relief eligibility verification, but is looking to help speed social service verification across all programs.
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