Good clean use case: Bahaman students graduate on the blockchain

Posted: 27 August 2018 10:00 am

Some problems really can be instantly solved by putting them on the blockchain.

Distributed ledger technology’s harshest critics often suggest that all blockchain systems are just solutions looking for a problem, and in many cases they’re probably right. Plus, it’s still early days and functioning systems are often hard to come by.

Blockcerts is a refreshing change of pace, taking advantage of the core features of blockchain systems to create useful digital certificates with a clean, simple interface. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has now made use of it, with a cohort of students who’ve passed through the Bahama’s National Training Agency’s (NTA) Workforce Preparedness Programme being among the first to receive their certificates through Blockcerts.

Note that there are (at least) two different blockchain platforms called Blockcerts. The one being used by the IDB is this one, not this one .

A good, clean use case

One of the core features of blockchain systems is the ability to create tamper-proof, forgery-proof digital assets. To date, this has mostly been digital currencies, made finite and given value through this system.

But certifications are an especially good example, as Fernando Pavón, an IDB labour markets and social security specialist explains, because they effectively solve very real problems in a way where the results are immediately apparent.

“With easy shareability, instant verification, and recipient ownership, Blockcerts brought joy to both the NTA administrators who issued the certificates and to the Bahamian graduates who received them,” he writes, noting that this instant gratification was one of the main reasons the IDB chose to pursue it.

The results are also immediately visible.

“In The Bahamas, you often need to present multiple documents to get a job, such as skills certifications (degrees, transcripts, professional licenses), drivers’ license; passport; and National Insurance Card. Many people don’t have one or more of these documents and are overlooked for job opportunities, or they don’t even apply to begin with. That’s a problem that can be easily fixed with Blockcerts,” Pavón explains.

It’s pretty much as easy as a simple upload, then being able to carry provably valid certifications around on your phone, verifiable wherever and whenever needed. It sure beats paying fees and waiting weeks for a fragile and easy-to-lose piece of paper to get mailed to the wrong address, and then needing to carry the original around, or make a copy and then get the copy notarised, and pay a third party whenever you need one of these pieces of paper verified.

Odds are you can probably relate to some or all of these problems.

“Today, the process of getting a business license in The Bahamas takes nearly 22 days on average. We can do much better. Since getting a license also depends mostly on records verification, having those records as Blockcerts could eventually make the whole process a same-day affair.”

These kinds of certification systems are similar identical to the idea of blockchain proof of identity which is already being used elsewhere to similar effect.

Some problems really can be easily solved by putting them on the blockchain.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds ETH, IOTA, ICX, VET, XLM, BTC and ADA.

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