Blockchain is a tool associated with technologies that are perceived as particularly advanced and complex. Nonetheless, implementing a blockchain-based credential issuing and verification solution is anything but unnecessary or disproportionate. Considering diplomas and certificates and their digitalization, note that:
- The phenomena of fake diplomas and diploma mills are no small problem, quite the contrary. The global fake diploma market is today worth over 500 million US dollars, and, therefore, a credential verification market, already worth 4 billion US dollars, continues to develop in response to this growing problem (Allen Ezell et John Bear, Degree Mills: The Billion-dollar Industry That Has Sold Over A Million Fake Diplomas).
- The e-administration sector is booming and pushing higher education and training to digitize all of its processes, including, naturally, the issuing of diplomas and certificates.
- Blockchain technology is widely recognized as a first-class solution in responding to the global trend towards digitalization and the security issues that it entails.
Initially used in the financial world, blockchain technology has since begun to conquer other sectors that have everything to gain from it. Its fundamental properties of durability, security and immutability, are qualities naturally sought after for the digitalization of such important documents as diplomas, certificates and credentials.
Blockchain is rightly considered a complex technology to use, but our know-how consists in dealing with all of this complexity, leaving you to enjoy only the very best of its qualities.
Well, the problem of fake diplomas has existed for centuries, just as solutions trying to mitigate the problem. Such solutions include background checking procedures, centralized national platforms, online directories of institutions, and so on.
However, with the increasing use of digital technology, the problem of fake diplomas is evolving, so the solutions on offer have to do so too. This is where BCdiploma comes in, which came about precisely because none of the previous solutions, including the most recent solutions based on digital vaults or electronic signatures, have succeeded in adapting themselves effectively to the higher education sector.
While blockchain technology may not be the only possible solution, it is unquestionably the most natural solution to solve the problem of fake diplomas. Its intrinsic properties of security, durability and immutability, not to mention its other more innovative features, which are arousing great interest in its adoption, make it the ideal foundation for the secure digitalization of diplomas, certificates and credentials. This is why the ecosystem established by BCdiploma now lists the largest number of public and private higher education institutions using a blockchain protocol in production.
Digital vault technology can certainly be used to secure documents, such as the PDF version of a diploma or certificate. An operator authorized to archive the documents “for verification purposes” can thus host them on its own secure servers. The principles of electronic timestamping, fingerprinting and signing can then protect the integrity of documents stored in this way. This technology, adopted in particular by the banking sector and certain large industrial groups, has not, however, been successfully implemented in the higher education market.
Several observations help explain the low rate of adoption of digital vault technology:
- Their usage implies a long-term dependence on the chosen service provider.
- The solution requires the creation and management of an account for each and every end user (in our case, students or trainees), which constitutes an enormous burden and obstacle to its implementation.
- The usage of the digital vaults does not make it easier at all for institutions wishing to simplify their processes for the issuing and verification of diplomas, certificates and credentials.
It is precisely such technological barriers that BCdiploma strives to remove entirely, in order to facilitate the adoption of digital systems for securing and sharing documents, diplomas and certificates. In fact, our solution:
- Does not require any long-term dependence on a single provider.
- Does not require the creation of an account for each and every student or trainee.
- Completely does away with the document management burden, as institutions can directly certify their own data, and allow verification of them on request, simply by the sharing of a link (URL).
Blockchain anchoring can indeed be used to authenticate a diploma. This involves depositing a proof on a blockchain, which is more precisely a 256 character fingerprint taken of the original data by means of a “hash”, or one-way encryption, of the data, using a Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA). This allows authentication of any copy of the data through a comparison of its hash with the hash of the original copy of the data, thus guaranteeing that no modification has been made to the data.
This method, which forms the basis of almost all blockchain applications used today, whether for document notarization or traceability, is theoretically applicable to digital diplomas, credentials and certificates. However, in practice, no project based on this model has been deployed on a large scale for digital diplomas. It is for this reason that Vincent Langard and Luc Jarry-Lacombe launched the EvidenZ project back in 2017, of which BCdiploma is a partner. With their first clients, ESCP Business School and the University of Nantes, they sought to put blockchain technology directly at the service of higher education institutions and their students.
The result was a patent published across 8 regions of the world, allowing students from over 170 institutions to access certified data stored on a decentralized network, in just one simple click. Unlike blockchain anchoring, which is difficult to automate, this approach has made it possible to deploy a turnkey service now already adopted in over 20 countries around the world.
No, quite the opposite. This is where the solution proposed by BCdiploma comes into its own! Unlike the majority of digital services that everyone uses on a daily basis, BCdiploma is a decentralized application based on blockchain technology. Let us recall the difference between centralized and decentralized applications:
- A centralized service is based on a set of servers and databases that are the property of and under the control of a particular service operator. If the service operator one day ceases to operate the service, the user will no longer have access to either the service or its data. We are therefore all dependent, to a greater or lesser degree, on popular services, such as, for example, the Google cloud, including hosting, Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar, and so on.
- A decentralized application, or “DApp”, is based on one or more components or programs deployed over a decentralized network, such as smart contracts on a blockchain. These programs are then autonomous in the wild, with no time limit or expiry. It is therefore impossible for a public blockchain to cease to exist, unless the tens of thousands of operators and users scattered around the world all decide by mutual agreement to stop their servers.
BCdiploma is a decentralized application based on smart contracts, which allows for the complete storage of authenticated data on a blockchain that guarantees access to the data at any time. Whatever happens to your supplier, the data of your digital credentials stored on the blockchain will always be accessible, and with them your diplomas, certificates and credentials!