Blockchain and the Digital Passport

Photo credit: iStockphoto/monsitj

The world has moved on from the use of paper-based documentation. Files, images, articles, invoices and practically all forms of documents have become digitized. Payments are rapidly becoming digitized across APAC, there is a major push for digitizing medical records , and airline tickets are moving to digital wallets.

It makes sense that digitization flows on to other aspects of daily life as well. Credentialing is a vitally important aspect of safe business and public practice and now offers secure and convenient digital options. This may include immunity, passports, OH&S records, licences to operate specific machinery, student records and certifications, and more.

Tamper-proof credentials

Generally, the more sensitive a documentation is, the more someone stands to gain by fraudulently changing the information it holds. Credentials hold a certain level of trust, and they are an important and sensitive commodity.

In the past, experienced fraudsters made counterfeit credentials such as fake passports, birth certificates and health certificates. These sold well on black markets. If you digitize those credentials, they become harder to fake or tamper with — but not impossible. However, using blockchain technology with self-verifying certifications, credentialling wallets can now be made completely tamper-proof, negating the chance that anyone has forged or altered them at any stage in their digital lifecycle.

The private citizen immunity passport is one such example. Based on Blockcerts technology, a passport enables citizens to keep track of all their immunizations in a private, digital wallet which can be stored on their smartphone.  That immunization passport can make life easier for business travelers — especially in the current world climate — and individuals working in the medical profession, scientists and pharmacists handling sensitive materials, and so forth.

Blockcerts are guaranteed to be 100% reliable and trusted, and can also be verified anywhere in the world with the click of a button or a QR code scan. For the high-security medical records required to gain access to schools, places of employment and government offices — for example, COVID-19 antibody certification — this level of security, privacy and immediate access is especially important.

A highly secure, tamper-proof digital wallet or passport for sensitive records and personal information can also be applied in many other ways. They might store certifications to operate heavy and complex machinery in, say, a mine or electrical sub-station. They may also hold OH&S information which can prove critical for people working in certain environments.

The digital credentialling wallet will also be highly beneficial to government bodies and organizations as the world economy restarts following the COVID-19 restrictions. Companies will rely on temporary or transient workers as they increase production, but remain wary of overheads and wage bills.

Tamper-proof certifications will be critical for maintaining compliance, ensuring that visitors and casual staff have proper immunizations, training and medical history to perform given tasks. An instantly verifiable, secure method of certification will empower employers to keep business moving forward while maintaining stringent levels of safety and staff compliance.

Codifying trust

This high level of trust is critical in many industries.

Blockchain itself is inherently secure because of being a distributed ledger technology, with copies of a document stored on nodes right across the network. Data added to a ‘block’ on the blockchain cannot be changed. It is also not possible to go back down the line of blocks and change data once it has been forged to a block — hence the term ‘blockchain’.

Blockcerts are cryptographically sealed and anchored to a blockchain. The anchor is essentially a unique digital ‘fingerprint’ that is maintained right across the blockchain network.

Once the digital record is created in the blockchain, it is possible to access it conveniently via a secure cloud link. Therefore, it is ultimately portable, and can be shared by sending a link or file. The recipient, or whoever opens a document to check an individual’s credentials, is unlikely to need special software to open the file — an advanced platform or solution will take care of that.

The digital passport or wallet is also instantly revocable by the issuing agency. Should an individual’s circumstances change, the Blockcert can be stopped or canceled instantly, wherever that individual is in the world.

Beyond COVID-19

Blockcerts are portable, interoperable across platforms, and have been tested and proven with institutions around the globe, including the Federation of State Medical Boards in the U.S. and the Ministry for Education and Employment in Malta.

Other applications of the technology include warrants to prove an individual has the right to practice law in certain territories, including notaries public; ensuring healthcare practitioners have the correct licences to practice medicine in a specific territory or perform a particular task; checking teachers have the credentials and education for a specific role.

Blockchain technology is a vital tool for many industries, ensuring secure compliance to regulations and safe operations.

Hyland’s APAC director, Eugene Chng, and country manager for ANZ, Jamie Atherton, wrote this article. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CDOTrends. Photo credit: iStockphoto/monsitj